By Anne Metz
Teaching CCD for the past few years, I’ve encountered more than a few young children who had no idea that Christmas is Jesus’ birthday. It’s easy to see how this can happen. So much of what they are exposed to focuses on just the secular aspects of Christmas: the presents, the tree, the movies, commercials, and Elf on the Shelf, just to name a few.
If that is all they are seeing and hearing about Christmas, of course that will be their understanding of it. None of those things are inherently bad, but they don’t teach kids that Jesus is the reason for the season. So it’s up to us as parents to make that clear to them.
The good news is, this is not as difficult as you may think. In fact, you can keep on doing what you normally do for Christmas while highlighting Jesus’ birth. Here’s how:
Start with Advent
Advent is a season of preparing for Christmas. Don’t skip over this beautiful season of waiting. Put out an Advent wreath, point out the purple or pink colors at Mass, and print out coloring pages of Advent wreaths for your children. You can even decorate your home with purple and pink, the colors of Advent. If you get an Advent calendar for your children, get one with a religious theme that provides Bible verses along with candies.
Watch Christmas Movies About Christ
So many Christmas movies reference the “true meaning of Christmas” and then define that as spending time with family or being generous. While those are lovely things to focus on, we know that the true meaning of Christmas is that Jesus came down from heaven to bring light to our dark world. So make sure you take some time to watch Christmas movies that are about the real meaning of Christmas. Two movies to start with are “Star,” an animated movie that tells the nativity story from the point of view of the donkey Mary rode into Bethlehem, and “Nativity Story,” a beautiful retelling of the events leading up to the birth of Jesus.
Sing Christmas Carols
If you love playing Christmas music, that’s great! You can keep your Christmas Christ-centered by making sure you are playing a variety of music, including Christmas songs about Jesus. Sing about Rudolf and Dominic the Donkey, but don’t forget to sing about Jesus with “Away in a Manger,” “Hark the Herald Angels Sing,” and “O Holy Night.”
If you aren’t a fan of Christmas music, that’s ok too, especially if you hate hearing the same songs over and over again. There are tons of Christmas songs about Jesus that aren’t on repeat on all the radio stations and in the stores. Try pulling up some of the lesser played religious songs like “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear,” “What Child is This,” and “Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming.”
Decorate at the Right Time
Take a look at your Christmas decorations;, do any of them portray the significance of the holiday? If not, add some! Start with a nativity set that depicts the birth of Jesus.
You can also consider the timing of your decorations. The season of Christmas doesn’t officially start in the Church until Christmas. Maybe you can hold off on putting up your Christmas tree and decorations until Christmas Eve. If you can’t wait that long, be sure to keep your Christmas decorations up for the entire season of Christmas. In the Catholic Church, Christmas ends on the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord.
Read about Christ’s Birth
Invest in some Christmas books about Jesus. Pick a book each night of Advent to read to your children. Even older kids like to be read to from time to time.
Bake for Jesus’ birthday
Many families love to bake for Christmas. Why not teach your kids that we celebrate Jesus’ birthday by adding a birthday cake or birthday cupcakes to your baking list?
You don’t have to throw Santa out the window to let Jesus in. You don’t have to skip watching Frosty the Snowman to teach your kids the real meaning of Christmas. But you do have to make sure your kids see and hear about Jesus’ coming into the world at home. So go ahead and watch Frosty, but be sure to watch Star as well. Sing about Rudolf, but also sing “Silent Night.” Put up a tree, but also display a nativity scene. Teach your kids to keep Christ in Christmas.