“The world says the real meaning of Christmas is all sorts of things … shopping, family, big sales on TVs and refrigerators, but we know that it’s Jesus, right? That’s why it’s called Christmas.”
Thus says Clive, an archaeologist, to his brother archaeologist Ian in Phil Vischer’s newest DVDs for kids, Why Do We Call it Christmas?
Isn’t that so true? How do we explain to kids with our words that Christmas is all about Christ, when what we say with our actions is that it’s everything but? Even if we’re not the ones stressed as we rush to wrap presents, make cookies for Santa, and get the good deals at stores on Black Friday, the rest of our culture certainly is. How do we keep the focus on Jesus, and not on elves or presents?
There are more tools out there to help parents than you might think. We talked to some friends, did some reading, and got some creative ideas. Here are a few of our favorites.
- Do your own research on who Santa is so that you can answer you kids’ questions. Vischer’s team has done some initial research for you.
- Use Vischer’s Why Do We Call it Christmas? DVD to get the conversation started with your kids about Jesus and holiday traditions.
- Print out the ornaments included in Ann Voskamp’s book, Unwrapping the Greatest Gift, and start a new advent tradition of a Jesse Tree, instead of, or in addition to a Christmas tree. (Ann is literally turning her Christmas tree upside down.)
- John Piper’s wife Noel used to create her own advent calendars. If you want to create your own for your kids, you can read about how to get started.
- If you want to do a traditional weekly advent, but make it kid-centric, try Vischer’s Everday Emmanual.
- Also check out Noel’s book, Treasuring God in Our Traditions, for some thoughtful considerations and ideas about holidays in general.
- For little kids, there’s also the Truth in the Tinsel, a guide with scripture and activities for each day of advent.
This Christmas will be my son’s first. And even though he’ll only be eight months old, I’m already wondering how we’re going to explain everything to him next year, so I’m doing my research, too. But I know that the best things to do aren’t even things: We need to rest in God’s sovereignty and model a rich relationship in Christ. And then we lean on the body of Christ for prayer and practical wisdom.
What ideas do you have? What have you done to help your kids understand what Christmas is really about?
Lindsey M. Roberts spent years writing exclusively for secular journalism, including such outlets as The Washington Post, Architect, and Gray magazine, before she first tried to write about Jesus. She’s thrilled to explore in words how everything from cleaning the kitchen three times a day to delighting in the maritime history of Nantucket is an opportunity to meet and glorify God. Lindsey lives with her husband, a pastor and U.S. Army Reserve chaplain, and two children in Wisconsin.