Every Black Friday, we hear stories about overzealous shoppers who rush the store doors when they open or get in fights with other shoppers over some item they want that is only available in limited quantities.
A few years ago a pregnant woman was trampled when people rushed the door, and during Black Friday 2011 a woman pepper sprayed other shoppers. A reader of mine told me her children saw a person punch a lady for $1.88 towels on sale at Wal-Mart. The woman who was punched went to get her glasses that had fallen to the floor, and then the other shoppers stole her towels. Black Friday seems to bring out the worst in people, and it can be a poor example for our children.
Every year the Christmas season seems to fuel a frenzy of consumerism rather than a chance to celebrate the birth of Christ. Decorations and other Christmas items are put on display before Halloween is even over, and even the Black Friday sales started earlier this year. Vigilance is required to combat against this and to continue to demonstrate to children the real reason we celebrate. Here are some things we do to help remind our children to keep the birth of Christ the forefront of the holiday.
Bake A Birthday Cake For Jesus.
Every Christmas Eve, we make a cake to celebrate the birth of Jesus, and we enjoy it after our Christmas dinner. This helps our young children remember that the real reason for Christmas is to celebrate Jesus’ birth.
Shop For A Needy Child.
My son is seven, so a few years ago, when he was four, we started the tradition of choosing a tag off the Christmas tree at our local post office. We go shopping for the child we don’t know whose parents don’t have money to buy her a gift. My son picks out the item, and we go home and wrap it together and drop it off at the post office. During this time, we talk about being thankful for what we have and helping others who are less fortunate than we are.
Clear Out Your Shelves.
Almost all of us have too much “stuff”—too much food in our pantry and too many clothes in our closets. Now is a good time to cull down the extra and just keep the essentials. Local food pantries would welcome your unexpired canned goods and dry goods; shops like Goodwill would welcome your gently used clothing. Children often have too many toys; now would be a good time to explain how much we have to be thankful for and how nice it is too share the excess with others by donating a toy or two.
Give A Gift Of Time.
Volunteer to help a local agency such as a food bank or to deliver food baskets to the needy in your own church. Likewise, nursing homes are usually glad to have visitors; call the nursing home ahead of time and see if you can bring a treat such as cookies or bread and spend time visiting with the residences. Children will learn that not only is it good to give of themselves through spending time with others who may be lonely, but that family is one of the most important things to be thankful for.
Read Them Stories About Selfless Giving.
One of my favorite stories is O’Henry’s The Gift of the Magi where a couple each sacrificed to give gifts to one another. The woman sold her long, beautiful hair to buy her husband a watch chain, and unbeknownst to her, her husband sold his watch to buy her a hair clip. Both were willing to give up the item they most loved to give to the other. We also enjoy reading some of the Little House on the Prairie books. One Christmas, Laura and Mary received a tin cup to share and a piece of candy, and they were delighted by their gifts. The focus was not on the presents they received but on spending time with family and giving thanks for all of their blessings. Seeing the simplicity of the holidays back then helps my son see how commercialized Christmas is now.
While American businesses delight on the frenzy that is Black Friday, we don’t have to fall into the commercial trap of Christmas. We can take steps to remind our children each Christmas what the holiday is really about—celebrating the birth of Jesus, not how many presents we can receive.
Have you heard of Advent Conspiracy? I think you would like it. http://www.adventconspiracy.org
Love this! My children are younger (under 5) but they still know the general concept behind why we celebrate Christmas. Sometimes they will get into the “Mommy, I want that for Christmas” and that is all I hear for the next 30 minutes and then I just ask them why we really celebrate Christmas and they say because Jesus was born and that usually stops the whole asking for every toy they see every 5 minutes.
Celia Miller says
To bake a birthday cake for Jesus is to minimize the importance of Jesus’ birth. The coming of God to earth in the form of a baby is much more awe inspiring than just a birthday! Even young children can learn to feel that awe.
Peter Anderson says
I agree that the coming of our Lord and Savior is definitely something that inspires awe, gratitude and a whole host of other things, but I don’t think it’s inappropriate to do activities like this to help remind children of the reason why we celebrate the day.
I don’t think making a cake for jesus’ birthday minimizes his importance. It’s a celebration of his coming to the world. We had a cake for him too, with a candle, sing happy birthday and everything and we love him. It doesn’t mean we’re lessening his importance at all. Everyone thinks differently tho but as long as we celebrate his birthday any nice gesture is ok i believe.
Patty McDonald says
Celia, baking a birthday cake for the savior of the world should not minimize the importance of His birth. On the contrary, if having a birthday cake is a normal part of birthday celebrations at your house, it would solidify the concept that Christmas isn’t just a time for presents and a tree, but there is a real reason for the celebration…a birthday…a very special birthday for the King of Kings! I personally don’t feel that the cake is enough, and maybe that’s what you meant to say. I don’t really understand why people exchange gifts with one another anyway, because I see that as a distraction, placing the focus on ourselves. On my birthday, others don’t get gifts; I alone do. So, on the savior’s birth celebration, why do we all get gifts? Most of us have no real needs to speak of. However, since the celebration is of the birth of Christ, giving HIM a gift is so appropriate. Jesus said in Matthew 25: 31-40 that when we help and bless the poor and truly needy, it is as though we gave directly to Him. Why not give gifts and spend our money on Christ by giving to the needy and poor. The focus then would turn from ourselves. It is, after all, truly more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35).
Why we give to each other? I always believed that when jesus said to love one another, that message couldn’t come across more clearer than when we celebrate his birthday. Think about it, the whole world celebrates his birthday by being kind to one another for one day. Not just family but in secret santas and giving out to the poor and needy. So he brings out the best in people on his birthday. There’s no other birthday that is celebrated around the world in such a fashion.
? Cutie girl 123 says
I love this but why don’t you show things kids can Do to prepare for christ’s birth ? ( they alSo need education about our lord )
MICHAEL BLANCHARD says
I AGREE WITH BEING GRATEFUL , HELPING OTHERS IN NEED. I WOULD DISAGREE WITH GIVING COOKIES,BREAD,OR ANY SUGAR PRODUCTS . SUGAR CAUSES MANY DISEASES. THE BEST GIFT IS LOVE: TIME,HUGS ,PRAYERS,LISTENING . ANY FOOD GIVEN SHOULD BE HEALTHY, NOT OLD OUTDATED DEAD PROCESSED FOOD . I FEEL THE BEST EXAMPLE WE CAN SET FOR OUR CHILDREN IS TO FOLLOW IN THE LORDS FOOT STEPS. THIS WILL HONOR HIS BIRTHDAY THE MOST. THE GIFT OF LOVE COSTS NOTHING. THE CHRISTMAS CELEBRATIONS OF TODAY ARE ALL CENTERED ON SELF INDULGENCE AND WASTEFUL EXCESS , ALL THE EXCESS ELECTRICITY TO CREATE A LAS VEGAS LITE SHOW , PAPER WRAPPING THAT FILLS THE LANDFILLS, CHEAP GIFTS BOUGHT OUT OF OBLIGATIONS THAT NEVER GET USED . IDOL TREES KILLED AND ADORNED , CAUSE FIRES AND END UP IN THE TRASH IN MASS. AND AS WITH ALL HOLIDAYS , SUGAR LADEN JUNK FOODS THAT CAUSE NEEDLESS DISEASE. IS THIS HONORING THE LORD,EARTH? I DO MY PART AND PRAY OTHERS WILL EVENTUALLY AWAKEN AND SEE HOW ABSURD THE CELEBRATION OF CHRISTMAS HAS BECOME. THE WORST OFFENCE IS SANTA CLAUSE= LYEING TO THE CHILDREN !!!!! WHAT KIND OF EXAMPLE IS THIS, THAT FITS INTO HONORING CHRIST? PEACE, JOY AND LOVE IS WHAT I WILL WISH YOU TO END MY LETTER . MICHAEL
These are really interesting ways to celebrate the birth of Jesus. I’d definitely try them out this Christmas. Thank you so much for sharing, Melissa!
Yolanda R Williams-Davis says
Great ideas and writing skills Melissa! As a grandma and grand aunt, I am hoping and in the planning stage to pull together a family celebration for the children (ages 1 – 8 years old) to celebrate Lord Jesus Christ’s birthday. It would be an annual thing that take place at my home.
Any ideas. Super-duper thanks!