The Birth of Jesus.
Which story does our child know better?
Many of us grew up learning about Santa. Some of us grew up learning about the birth of Jesus. Some of us grew up simply exchanging gifts with family and friends. Most of us grew up with a mixture of these.
We’ve been influenced… by our parents, our peers, our culture.
How are we influencing our children?
When our boys were toddlers, I remember pondering how to strike a healthy balance between Santa and the birth of Jesus.
…. Just writing that sentence feels weird!
As our children grew, this question’s breadth grew — How do I lead and influence our children to see the significance of learning about and contemplating the celebration of the birth of Jesus … while at the same time joining in the culture’s festive mood and enjoying giving gifts to loved ones?
Looking back, it was much easier in those preschool and early elementary years! My first attempt at “sharing more about Jesus” was our tree skirt. Yep, I made a nativity scene tree skirt out of felt. I traced each character of the manger scene, cut them out and glued them on a large piece of felt. (My children were too young to judge my very elementary craft abilities.) Anyway… ! When our children were little, our tree was strategically in the living room, AWAY from where they played. But when we went to look at the tree and its ornaments, we eventually sat on the floor and talked about the manger scene on the skirt.
Also, a hand-me-down that I received from my parents was their first manger scene, which was plastic. Our children would play with it and every few days I would tell them the story of Jesus’ birth with it. In time, they wanted to tell me the story. Cute memories!
We read story books about Jesus being born, but also stories about Santa, Rudolph and Frosty the Snowman. We made Christmas lists, baked cookies, sang carols and enjoyed watching some of the SAME Christmas classics on television that Terrell and I watched as kids!
Here’s what I realized.
I’m raising my children in this world, and in our particular part of this world, materialism and the secularization of Christmas is dominant. BUT IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE THAT WAY IN OUR HOME. The most important story to us is the one we will tell the most, the one we will focus on the most, the one we will live.
I made a decision when they were toddlers that I would have to be particularly strategic during December — just like the stores are. Just as they contemplate how to woo customers to buy their products, I can pray and consider how to gently point our children to Jesus, in the midst of candy canes, crafts, Christmas carols and celebrations.
Our God sees all that is going on. He knows what competes for our children’s attention and for their hearts — the same things that tempt ours! Whether our child is 2 or 22, God has appointed us as parents to pray for our children to know Jesus, to know HIS story and embrace a relationship with Him.
During this month, let’s be intentional to pray for our children to come into an intimate, significant relationship with Him. And while we’re at it, let’s pray for our own heart to be moved and changed by the gift and love of Jesus, our Messiah.
PS… I would love for you to share HERE ways that your family focuses toward Jesus during December!