It’s the most wonderful time of the year. We are surrounded by shiny decorations, festive music, tasty treats, and gifts. Just turn on the television or watch advertisements on your favorite social media platform to enjoy images of Santa, elves, and more. While these things are fun and festive, have you noticed that the guest of honor at this celebration is often missing? Other than in churches, or at Christian stores, it’s difficult to find many reminders of the reason we celebrate Christmas. Christmas is celebration of Jesus’s birth.
As parents, we have a choices make about how we celebrate with our children. While the secular celebrations are fun, it’s vital that Christian parents deliberately place the focus back on the birthday boy. But with the chaos of the preparations, the time required for shopping, baking, and decorating, how can we build in time to teach our children about Jesus’s birth? Isn’t it sufficient to take them to church? My answer to that is no. There’s much more you can do.
Many parents research and enact elaborate mischief for their magic elves, they dress up their children and carve out time to have their children pose on a red-suited stranger’s lap, and they ensure that their family’s holiday traditions are continued. Yet, many families do not spend time talking about the real reason we celebrate Christmas. So, let me give you ten easy ways to teach your children about Christmas.
- Place nativity sets in your home and allow your children to manipulate and play with the pieces. There are several kid-friendly toy nativity sets sold by Fischer Price (Little People), Playmobil, and Tales of Glory. There are magnetic nativity sets and even traditional nativity sets.
- When you take a tour of Christmas lights in your town, have your children look for (and count) nativity scenes. Have them assess how many nativity scenes they see compared to cartoon characters, Santa, and others.
- Read the birth narrative found in Matthew 1:18-2:12. Discuss the characters your read about (Mary, Joseph, angels, magi, Herod, and Jesus). Note who you expected to be in the story yet who is missing.
- Read the birth narrative found in Luke 2:1-20 and note the characters (Joseph, Mary, angels, shepherds, Jesus) and who you think should be there but is missing from the story (innkeeper, donkey, etc.)
- Retell the birth narratives as your children act out the story. Use props and costumes created from things you find around your home.
- Have your children play with nativity sets as they tell you the story. Feel free to remind them about what the birth narratives say and to revisit them to verify their accuracy.
- Plan a birthday party for Jesus. On Christmas Day, include a birthday cake with a lit candle. Sing Happy Birthday, blow out a candle, and celebrate the birthday boy.
- Remind your children (and ask them) regularly why we celebrate Christmas. Say something like: Is Christmas all about Santa? Elves? Do we celebrate someone’s birthday? Then guide your children to answer the question correctly, if they do not. Get them used to hearing this: We celebrate Christmas because it’s Jesus’s birthday!
- Wrap up a baby doll and let this be the first gift opened on Christmas. When it’s opened, remind your children that Jesus was God’s gift to the world. He was (and is) the best gift ever.
- Build your own family tradition. Begin a family tradition that includes a focus on the birth of Jesus.
With Christmas Day quickly approaching, it’s easy to get caught up in secular traditions. While many of these are great, they can easily distract us from the birth of Jesus and cause us to shift our focus to other things. This is a precious time filled with magic and memories, yet we must help our children (and remind ourselves) to understand the reason we celebrate. Make this Christmas one to remember, where the focus it on the birthday boy.