Rescuing Christmas: How To Keep The True Meaning Alive For Our Children

Christian parents know that raising a child of faith in a secular world is difficult, and never does this seem more problematic than during the month of December. Let's be honest, a broke couple and their new baby just don't hold the same magical allure of a scarlet-clad man carrying bags of toys over his shoulder, no matter how much eternal salvation the baby will eventually offer. So how, parents? How can you instill the true meaning of Christmas into tiny hearts? Don't worry. It isn't as daunting as it seems.

  1. Find the Sacred - Our family tends toward the evangelical, but we have borrowed the advents celebrations of more liturgical traditions. Each night we read from a storybook Bible and light a candle, talking about why Jesus came, and the amazing gift of salvation he brought. As young as they are, the children are often more interested in whose turn it is to blow out the candles than in the true significance behind them, but it offers a chance to slow down and to intentionally focus on the story of rescue in the Bible. Familylife.com points out that setting aside moments like this during the holiday season gives an opportunity to remind us, even in the midst of toy catalogs and holiday TV specials, that the true meaning of Christmas was born without fanfare, without ceremony, and certainly without twinkling lights.

  2. Redeem the Secular - Many of us have holiday traditions that we hold dear, though they may not be specifically related to the true Story. Walking through the mall with the decorations glowing, baking Gingerbread cookies, driving through town to look at the beautiful lights. Even in the mostly cultural aspects, something about the season fills hearts with warmth and joy. There is no mandate to reject these things. Just as God uses the most unlikely of people for his glory, we can take the most unlikely traditions and turn them into moments that glorify Him and that teach our little ones about the true meaning of the Holiday. Instead of a shelf-living elf, perhaps allow small figures of the Three Wise Men to wander your house each day, searching for the baby Jesus. As you look at stunning light displays, talk about the true light that came into the world 2000 years ago. Kennisha Hill at FamilyLife.com suggests that When you bake cookies, bake extra for the new family down the street. As a very wise teacher once said, most learning is "caught", not "taught". It is these quiet, in between moments where the truth of the season is internalized.

  3. Minimize the Gifts - Gift-giving has been a part of Christmas since the beginning, but let's be real: Christian parenting is difficult enough without the rampant consumerism during the holidays. Amber Van Schooneveld with Focus on the Family suggests allowing yourself to set limits, whether it is only one gift per child, or the Four Gift Rule, or whatever number (or dollar amount) works for your family and situation. Don't give into the guilt and the lie that your worth as a parent is tied to the amount of things your child receives under the tree on December 25th. Use this season to shift your child's focus away from the getting and onto giving. Help them to choose an unsuspecting recipient to pay a kindness. Allow them to buy (or have input on) gifts for siblings. Feeling the joy of giving for themselves tends to stick in the heart more effectively than verbal reminders that it is better to give.

Like every aspect of Christian parenting, mindfulness during Christmas is simply about centering, and reminding ourselves that each moment already belongs to the baby that came 2000 years ago.

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