Years ago, John Grisham wrote the novel Skipping Christmas about an empty-nesting couple who decided to pass over their festivities for a Caribbean cruise, because their only daughter was unable to spend Christmas with them. Looking at the costs, the husband’s idea would have saved money and exerted efforts by abandoning their traditions. (This book later became a holiday classic film known as Christmas with the Kranks.)
It’s a rather attractive idea isn’t it, since the winter season seems to add more to our daily schedule. From decorating the home, participating in church and community events, attending the work Christmas party, buying gifts, writing cards and sending off newsletters... oh my! The list goes on. Whether the family is on a budget or not, crafting their way through the season or shopping in the stores—sometimes this occasion can seem overwhelming.
What is the meaning of all of this? Why do we feed the machine? Can’t Christmas be simple? Why bother? Well, as Christians we recognize Christmas is not about the materialism, but the Messiah.
How do we explain that to our kids when what we say and what we do conflict each other? How do we share the good news of Jesus Christ when we are frantically following the culture of twinkling lights and turkey dinners? What good is it to war between the phrase ‘Happy Holidays’ versus ‘Merry Christmas’ around little watching eyes? As a parent of young toddler who is a frolicking tape recorder, I am convicted to teach the importance of Baby Jesus.
It’s not easy.
Give a toddler a new toy and tell them it’s because of Jesus’ Birthday. How effective is that? Try explaining all of this is because a virgin gave birth to God’s son. Are you ready to define virginity? What if you mention there was no vacancy at the inn, the shepherds were startled by angels, or that wise men who tracked down the stars studied the sky to find the family? It’s a strange event we Christians celebrate.
We pick between the stable scene or Santa Claus, but both have been materialized.
Then there are the parents who choose to wait until their children are older before mentioning God. Why? Should we allow ignorance of His presence in our homes? Sure my child is young, but my responsibility is to train her in both physical and spiritual matters. Yes, she is still in diapers, but that doesn’t stop us from reading stories, singing songs, and using the given opportunities to explain Him.
For our family, I’m choosing this Christmas to teach this truth: The world needed a hero and God fulfilled His promise to send one. Jesus Christ is that hero, we call him the Messiah. Jesus was God’s way of saving everyone from evil and proving his love for us. Christmas is when we remember God sent his son, God in all His power became a man... starting as a helpless baby. The goal here is my child learns we celebrate what the LORD has done. (And as an added bonus, we learn something about God. For example, God keeps his promises, or God is generous.)
Christmas is a family holiday and to each kin, they have their own traditions. Let’s not get too caught up in the rituals that our little ones are left confused. They are so young; they are absorbing all our actions. Time with family is good. Dressing up and singing carols are fun. Dinners and treats are delicious. Being hospitable, generous, and forgiving is always beneficial. However a young parent should observe their surroundings then ask, “What is Christmas to my child?”