It's that wonderful time of year, once again. That special time when strains of holiday music and sweet aromas fill the air. It's a happy time, especially for children. They, and we, can easily get lost in the jolly-good times and forget about the real reason we celebrate Christmas. It takes a little effort to bring Christ into our celebrations, but we must. Children need to know this is the time of year when we celebrate His birth more than the coming of Santa. That doesn't mean we can't have all the fun that Santa, gifts, goodies and parties bring. It just means we combine them in a way that will keep our children focused on the birth of our Savior. Here are five suggestions for making that happen.
1. Visit nativity scenes
Usually there are many around town, mostly at churches. If you live near Salt Lake City, Utah be sure to visit Temple Square where the life-size nativity is surrounded by millions of lights in the trees, shrubbery and buildings. And you can even see the larger-than-life replica of the world famous statue "The Christus" at the visitor's center. It's all breathtaking. Families from all over the world come to see the sights there. Also you can visit the historic Cathedral of the Madeleine just a few blocks away where there is a beautiful nativity set up for Christmas Eve Mass. All over the world you can find beautiful nativity displays. Take advantage of the ones in your community, and give your children that spiritual connection to Christ at Christmastime.
2. Set up a nativity scene in your home
Let the children help place the pieces in the scene. Some families have a few different nativities for rooms throughout the house. Some collect different ones as a hobby. Whatever you do, make it part of your Christmas festivities. Be sure to read aloud the Biblical account of Christ's birth from Luke Chapter 2 verses 1-16. Let your children hear the beauty of these verses. They need to know the nativity scenes are a representation of Christ's birth. Some families have their children play the parts and act out the story as it is read - costumes and all, easily made with bathrobes and scarves.
3. Make goodies for neighbors
Giving gifts is a joyful part of celebrating Christmas. We have spent many fun times making gingerbread cookies with our little grandchildren, then wrapping plates of them with red cellophane tied with a big gold ribbon and delivering them to elderly or homebound folks nearby. Jesus taught us that "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me" (Matthew 25:40). It's like giving a gift to Jesus. After all, it is His birthday. Make the connection.
4. Fill your home with the carols that tell about Christ
Enjoy the fun Christmas songs about Santa, elves and reindeer, but don't forget the sacred ones that tell of Christ's birth. If you play the piano, guitar or other instrument, have your children gather around and sing together. Some families go caroling to their neighbors. However you wish to incorporate Christmas music in your home make it a fun and joyful part of your holiday, being sure to include songs about Christ, like Silent Night, Away In a Manger, O Little Town of Bethlehem and many others. You can find the music here.
5. Watch movies that tell the Christmas story
One of our favorites is The Nativity Story, which we purchased on DVD. You can do a Google search for others that may become, or already are, among your favorites.
6. Attend a Christmas concert
Unfortunately, many schools do not include songs that tell of Christ's birth in their concerts. Find one that does. Most communities or churches offer a performance of Handel's beloved Messiah. Some include sing-alongs. Help your children learn to enjoy these sacred renderings that truly celebrate His birth. Exposure will create a love for them.
7. Go to church
Not just on Christmas Day or Eve, but all month long. Get in the habit of going every week throughout the year. It will bring your family closer to Christ and give far more meaning to His life and the reason we celebrate His birth.
We hope you find joy in bringing more of Christ into your Christmas celebrations. It will create a lasting memory and a foundation of faith for your children.
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