It is easy to be knocked off balance and lose focus at Christmas. It is, after all, the busiest and most stressful season of the year.
Even more so for our children. Egged on by seemingly harmless questions, “What do you want for Christmas?” or “What do you want Santa to bring you this year?” children are swept off their feet by a marketing vortex that plays on their innocent fantasy.
Everywhere they turn, children are bombarded with high-definition, fast-action, color-intense visual images that prey on their impressionable imagination. As if the visual overload is not enough, an overdriven cacophony of Christmas sounds and advertising bombards their sensitive eardrums.
Exhausted and stressed, we parents get sucked into the Christmas juggernaut and miss what makes Christmas the “special time of the year” that it is.
Here are 5 things we can teach our children to help them stay balanced and not lose focus at Christmas.
1. Christmas celebrates Light
Just listen to the news for evidence that darkness encroaches upon our world. Our children feel it intuitively, along with their personal darkness and fear. Christmas is an opportune time to reassure our children that the Eternal Light of God, whose birth we commemorate, shines in their heart. It only takes a little candle to shatter darkness.
2. Christmas announces Joy
Darkness steals joy, especially that of childhood. Joy to the World is a favorite carol heard often at Christmas. But the commercialism of Christmas tempts our children (and us) to look for happiness in material things—toys, electronic devices, food. Joy, however, has its source within and springs forth by our choosing. That lesson will benefit our children all through the year.
3. Christmas proclaims peace and goodwill
Darkness promotes feelings of alienation. Home is designed to be a refuge of safety, especially for our children—the space where they can be themselves, accepted for who they are and loved simply and especially because they are family. Christmas is a good time to reaffirm family and extend expressions of goodwill to all.
4. Christmas denotes giving
On this point the significance of Christmas is most sadly lost. Too easily, especially for our children, Christmas becomes a season of getting. Giving of gifts tends toward superficial (it’s the expected thing to do, especially if one expects a gift in return) or toward extravagant (an unnecessary and beyond-budget display).
True giving comes from a sincere heart and a habit of being kind and generous. It is found in a person who delights to elicit joy in others. Our children become authentic, fulfilled human beings as they learn this lesson.
5. Christmas heralds contentment
The attitude in the Christmas story that impresses me most is the unpretentious contentment of Joseph and Mary summarized by three words—simplicity, gratitude and wonder.
The young couple are content to begin their life together as a family in a rustic stable. Simple shepherds and dignified magi are welcomed with authentic gratitude and sincere wonder.
And after the grandiose fanfare of that first Christmas, Joseph, Mary and their beloved Yeshua continue a simple life filled with gratitude and wonder in Nazareth,.
The greatest gifts we can give our children this Christmas are the lessons of Christmas. These are best caught not taught, which happens when we parents model them every day of the year.
I bless my parents for these gifts. The lessons are deeply ingrained in me. I have the privilege this year of sharing them with two of my grandchildren who, with their mother, live with us.
Blessed Christmas to all…
Question: Will you take time this Christmas to impart these lessons to your children? They will bless you for it.