One of the great tragedies of Christmas in our current culture is its emphasis on materialism. Christmas has become more about what we get than what we give. And our children are sucked into this mindset thanks to the commercials on TV and the sights at retail stores. So I thought I’d offer a few helps to keep your children, and your family, focused on the important matters of the Christmas season.
1. Do some type of Advent celebration with the family. There are lots of helps that you can find from Christian bookstores to the internet. By doing a daily Advent devotion, you help remind your family who, why, and what we truly celebrate at Christmas.
2. Determine to serve others. Whether it’s the Christmas shoeboxes, visiting homebound senior adults, or helping a needy family, make sure your family reaches outside themselves to give to others. Take some Christmas cookies to some neighbors. Invite some neighbors over for Christmas dessert. Be creative.
3. Set a limit on what you give your children. When I was growing up, Christmas, birthdays, and the beginning of the school year were the primary times I received stuff. Nowadays, our children get stuff year-round. Be careful that you set the bar so high at Christmas that you feel you have to top yourself each year. Better to give simply to your children than to create a “me-monster” that graves more and more.
4. Slow down. Christmas can be such a hustle and bustle that we overlook the important stuff of Christmas, particularly people. Make sure that Christmas has time for games, puzzles, laughter, and community.
5. Stay involved in church during the holidays. During the Christmas season, we can get so busy that we let church get squeezed out. Make sure you make time for church. Many churches have a Christmas Eve service…attend it. If your church does a Christmas musical…attend it. Be there on Sundays and be involved.
6. Cultivate grateful hearts. Make sure that you talk among the family about the things for which you are thankful, focusing less on material things and more on attitudes and people. Teach your children that we have much to be thankful for each day that doesn’t involve receiving a gift. In fact, teach your children, by your example, about the gifts that God gives us each day.
7. Throughout all these things, make much of Jesus. It’s Jesus who teaches us what it means to give. It’s Jesus who teaches us what it means to serve. It’s Jesus whom we celebrate at Christmas. Make sure your children know this as we make much of Jesus and the gospel.
As much as we can, let’s make sure that we don’t allow our culture to teach our children the meaning of Christmas. Let’s take back the real meaning of Christmas so that we sow and water seeds of gratitude to Jesus in the hearts of our children.