It happens every year. Even before the last slice of turkey is eaten, or the final pumpkin pie tin is tossed children everywhere eagerly anticipate Christmas. “What will I get this year?” “What is Santa going to bring me?” and “How many gifts will I find under the tree?” are all common questions. From a day spent giving thanks for the things they have, they slip into an attitude of greed for the things they do not have. As parents, it is our job to help our children understand that Christmas time is not about getting, it is about giving.
To help them gain a better perspective, it may be necessary to show them how truly blessed they are. Kids will only know what they see. Being so young, they have a limited view on life. They only see their little world. That world may have the influence of abundance, either because their parents have excess, or their parents live sacrificially so the kids can have an abundance. When our kids are blessed in this way, they need to understand that others do not have the same opportunities.
A few ways to teach your kids about this life lesson are as follows:
Donate to a Charity
This can be done through monetary giving or a donation of time. If monetary, it should accompany a visit to the place you are donating to. Even if it is a website, allow your child to view what the organization stands for and whom the funds go to help. If it is time, then find an organization that works in your local community. A soup kitchen, clothing donation station, or a meal on wheels type charity is ideal. Somewhere your child can meet those they are giving to.
When children get to meet those less fortunate, they can learn to appreciate the things they do have. And in turn, want to give to those who do not have. As they see us treat others equally and not look down on them it provides them with a good example for them to follow. Children will imitate what they see. What will they see in you? Will they see you with a giving Christmas spirit, or giving into society’s portrayal of getting all that you can?
Go to Church
If you do not regularly attend church, this is one area that I highly recommend for you and your family. Your children get inundated with influences all week at school. And with all the silly laws and rules in place, any religious teaching is strictly forbidden. There is too much all-acceptance in today’s society. Anything goes. Morals are set aside to usher in tolerance and acceptance of attitudes and beliefs that go against a firm moral standard. The church is a place to affirm a moral standard. A child will be taught that there is a standard to live by.
In society, Christmas is driven by the dollar. Television and radio tell you that your love for someone will determine how much you spend on them. Christmas has lost its true meaning. Even the word Christmas is not accepted anymore. It has gotten so bad that you cannot even say Christmas without someone getting offended. One misplaced sign can get a company sued very quickly. Terms like Happy Holidays and Merry Xmas are what is accepted. It is not surprising that a child without a church-going base may have never heard the true story of Christmas. For them, it can be a season of gifts, or of families getting together, never about the birth of Jesus.
Talk to Your Child
Remember, you are your child’s first teacher. Most of the things that they will learn in life, will be through observation. They see they do. So, what do they see you do? Are you giving into the retail hype and treating Christmas as “gimme that”? Or do they see you giving sacrificially to those less fortunate? Kids need to understand that life is not about the things that we can get. It is not about achievements and accolades. What status you attain means nothing if what was done does not benefit others; if it is not done with a spirit of compassion.
If a child has been taught that Christmas is about getting gifts, decorations, and Santa Claus, then it’s time to sit down and have a heart to heart. Use the methods above to show them all the things we do have is a blessing, not an entitlement. Teach them that a good heart gives. Admonish them over selfishness and putting others down. Most of all, teach them the real reason for Christmas. Teach them about Jesus, the manager, Mary and Joseph, the star. Show them that Jesus’ birth had a plan. God’s plan and his love for us.
If you do not teach your children, someone else will. If you want your child to know the truth, then you must assume the responsibility and be the one to guide them.
It is okay to want things; it is okay to receive Christmas gifts. It’s when the getting outweighs the giving that our children can get confused. Use the resources that are in front of you to help them understand. Volunteering is one of the great eye-openers to the less fortunate. TV and movies are either over dramatic or don’t portray the reality of being in need. Reading about it only gives the knowledge that it exists. Seeing it, putting a face on it, is the only real way to grasp what is out there.
When a child can see the true need for themselves and have an explanation given to them about what they are seeing, they can gain a better perspective on what their life is like; how blessed they truly are. Then they can grow up with an appreciation for what they do have, and not complain about the things that they do not. It will also instill a desire to give to those in need; even at a sacrifice to them. Just as the Lord has done for each of us.
Jeff is a writer with a passion for God that comes through in everything he writes. A local First Baptist member and truck driver he loves to create works that glorify God. In addition to his freelance work, Jeff has written a series of books called the Elissa the Curious Snail series which helps parents introduce basic faith concepts like prayer, even in the face of adversity, into their teachings in a fun and entertaining way. No faithful home with children or grandchildren should be without a copy. See my books at www.elissathecurioussnail.com