Can you believe it is nearly Christmastime? It seems like we just celebrated last year! I don’t know about you, but Christmas is my absolute favorite time of the year. My family loves every part of celebrating the holiday: decorating, the music, the food, sharing gifts and time with family, but most importantly: celebrating the birth of Jesus. However, these days it seems like commercialism takes over in society and Christmas becomes more about receiving than giving. If you were to ask your children what Christmas is all about, what would they say? I’ll be the first to admit that my children can be caught up in what Santa is going to bring to them and forget what is truly meaningful. So how do you reinforce and teach your children what is really important? This month we are
going to talk about how to turn down the materialism and help our children learn the joy of giving and the true meaning of Christmas.
Even children who grow up in a Christian home can get caught up in the commercialism that can surround the holiday. Do you know that some studies have shown that children can be exposed to nearly 40,000 television ads and commercials a year?! These ads are designed to show us products that we just cannot live without. At a young age, children do not possess the ability to distinguish between a need and a want. So guess what, every interesting toy or product they see? They need it, at least in their mind. Try taking your little one
in a toy store this time of year and not buy something. Get ready for a meltdown! I’m not telling you to take down the tree and ban Santa from your home, but how do we teach our children that we should be focused on the ultimate gift of the birth of Jesus and not the latest toy?
Gifts and Christmas usually go hand in hand. So, how should we give? Giving should be about grace. We must teach children that we do not give out of obligation or expectations, but instead to practice selfless giving….giving freely. You cannot give with grace if you are thinking about yourself first. 2 Corinthians 9:7 says, “Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful heart.” Show them the joy that can be found in serving and giving to others.
We teach by example. Even as adults, it is easy to get caught in the tornado that is Christmas shopping. All you have to do is watch the news after Black Friday sales to see that. And guess what? Materialistic adults produce materialistic children. We must practice what we preach. Take a look at what your focus is on and you will get a good idea of how you are teaching your child to prioritize.
There is a great line at the end of The Grinch That Stole Christmas that says “Maybe Christmas, the Grinch thought, doesn’t come from a store…maybe Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.” How else will children learn the true meaning of Christmas if we, as their parents, don’t teach them? Read the Christmas story from the book of Luke, chapter 2. Read it from a children’s bible so it’s on their terms. Use decorations and allow them to help set up a nativity scene in your home. Attend church together as a family and talk about what they experience there. Bake a birthday cake for Jesus and celebrate his birthday. Even a small child will recognize the importance and significance of a birthday! My family has a tradition every Christmas of watching A Charlie Brown Christmas together. It is one of the few television shows that actually uses scripture to explain what Christmas is all about. These are all ways that we can teach our children about the gift of Jesus and the true meaning of Christmas.
Be watching later this month for our next email. We will share some tips and suggestions for teaching your children how to be grateful for what they have and how to encourage them to be joyful givers.