Ah, Christmastime is upon us, and as always, I’m giddy and happy about it. This year in particular is filled with even more joy as my little one is now old enough to join in on the excitement. Christmas trees captivate him, festive music thrills him, yummy treats energize him, and his absolute favorite — holiday lights — completely amaze him. It’s such a pleasure to watch this unfold as my husband and I rediscover the merriment of childhood wonder through his eyes. While we soak up these precious moments with our boy, we’ve made the decision to be intentional about something else this holiday season: remembering the true meaning of it. You see, we are a household of faith. Both my husband and I were raised in church and today, he even pastors one. My motto, however, is always to “Let a kid be a kid”, therefore we’ve chosen to pair the two notions, making both an intricate part of our children’s lives.
A couple of years ago, my mother-in-love read a book to a group of children, entitled “God Gave Us Christmas.” This book, written by Lisa Tawn Bergren, tells the story of Little Cub, who becomes inquisitive and wants to know who invented Christmas. From there, many questions about Christmas, God, and Santa come into play and we get a front row seat at how Mama Bear carefully navigates these tricky waters for her sweet and super curious little cub. Since I now have a child of my own, this book really resonates with me as I find my own Mama Bear within.
Since Christmas has become rather commercialized these days, how do we keep our focus on the real reason while still indulging in some holiday fun?
As I sat and began to reflect on how we could introduce these ideals to our son, I realized both Jesus and Santa have traits that mirror one another and can be beneficial to him not just now, but throughout his entire life.
According to History.com the story of Ol’ Saint Nick, whom we today refer to as Santa Claus, dates back to about 280 A.D. He was a saint known for his piety, kindness, and protection of children, who would give away his inherited wealth to help the sick and poor. Though everything from his appearance to name has evolved over the years, the concept of what Santa stands for has remained the same, standing the test of time. Then, even before that, over 2000 years ago to be exact, there was a babe born in a manger in Bethlehem. His triumphant birth brought us an innocent baby who would grow to be a savior that would offer salvation for all of us who believe.
Both of these figures, whether you believe or not, demonstrate wonderful characteristics you can’t deny, and ones that we hope to instill in our children. Their benevolence shows us that we are to treat all people with kindness. Not just at Christmastime, but every day of our lives. This can be as simple as offering a smile and a genuine “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays” to a stranger you pass on the street; truly seeing people, acknowledging them, and making them feel loved.
Their charity reminds us to be compassionate and always help those in need, without ever expecting anything in return. As my son becomes older, I love the idea of him donating a toy to a shelter or drive to a child less fortunate. The idea is for him to pick a toy, not one he barely plays with, but rather one he still enjoys, to gift to a child in need. The lesson of happily giving to someone else can make a huge imprint on his tiny heart and have lasting effects.
Their generosity charges us to consider the well-being of others and to not always focus on self gain. Here, random acts of kindness are an awesome way to demonstrate this to our son as he gets older and starts to understand what’s taking place. Something as small as leaving a couple of dollars taped to a vending machine with a nice note for an unexpected person to have a treat at our expense teaches him how much good it does us to bless others for absolutely no reason at all.
Then they provide us hope. Hope that no matter what today looks like, things can always get better. I hope we succeed at teaching our son that your presence, words, and encouragement can mean so much to others. By being a listening ear and a cheerleader for others, I hope my husband and I rub off on my son and that one day he too begins to join us in providing hope for others.
With this is mind, on Christmas day as our little guy unwraps gifts tucked under the tree, watching Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer, wrapped in the warmth of his Snowman jammies, we’ll also carve out time to introduce two special books to him: “God Gave Us Christmas” and the “The Very First Christmas.” Both these books are on his level and can present both aspects of Christmas in a fun, engaging way. This way his little mind can begin to understand not only the tree, music, and lights, but the concept, history, and true meaning as well.
All in all, childhood is fleeting, therefore we want our son to enjoy his for as long as possible. If we can keep the gaiety of this time alive, while also encouraging him to mimic the one the season is all about, I am confident that one day when the Christmas magic has faded, he’ll be prepared to face the obstacles the world will surely throw at him. In the meantime, we’ll continue to have fun with Santa, as well as celebrate the very reason the holiday even exists.