Every year, our culture seems to move further from “The Reason for the Season.” Retailers are intent on marketing and selling as much as possible. Consumers are missing Thanksgiving with family to begin shopping early Black Friday sales.
Our kids are getting too many gifts and focusing on what they can get rather than what they can give.
If you're tired of this trend, there are many ways to help your kids prepare for one of the Holiest Days, Jesus' birth. The more you can help your kids focus on the reason for the season, the more you can combat the rampant greed that now unfortunately surrounds Christmas.
Here are some activities you could do with your kids:
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Create Jesse Tree Ornaments
This tradition is a great way to reinforce Biblical facts and stories to your children in a fun way. Each day of Advent, you and your child create a Jesse Tree ornament and hang it on the tree.
The Jesse Tree follows Jesus' lineage from the beginning of Creation. An excellent explanation of the Jesse Tree can be found at Reformed Worship.
If you don't have the time or the inclination to make your own Jesse Tree ornaments, many sellers on Etsy have them available. Then you can still partake in the tradition even if you're not crafty.
Focus On Doing Rather Than Receiving
Another way to focus on Jesus' coming is to do for others. John 13:34-35 states, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
There is no end to things that you can do to express your love for others this holiday season. You could
- donate food to a food bank or shelter
- pay it forward at the store, a restaurant or a coffee shop
- visit the sick or the elderly
If you need more ideas, The Mad House has 50 Advent acts of kindness to consider.
Read Meaningful Stories About Christmas
While there's no end to books about Christmas and presents, take the time to read meaningful books with your children.
My kids and I recently had the chance to review, If He Had Not Come by Nan F. Weeks. In this story, a young boy experiences what life would be like if Jesus had never come. Your children will likely be startled by the way the world is portrayed in the story and emerge grateful for God and Jesus' sacrifice.
My mom always reads the kids Humphrey's First Christmas by Carol Heyer, written from the point of view of one of the camels who took the wise men to see the baby Jesus.
As you acquire more books, a fun tradition is to wrap the books and put them under the tree. Each night, your children pick one story to unwrap and read at night.
Give A Gift To Someone In Need
There are plenty of places where you can find gift requests from people in need. The post office and some stores put up Christmas trees and hang gift requests from needy individuals.
My kids and I always pick a slip or two. We have fun going shopping for the children we don't know and wrapping the presents and imagining the joy the children will have when they receive their gifts.
Add Additional Prayer To Your Routine
Advent is a time to prepare for Jesus' coming, and praying is a great way to do that. If you don't already, you may want to take the time to pray together. A great way to do this is to light an Advent wreath before dinner and recite a few prayers and read a few verses from the Bible. If you haven't used an Advent wreath before, you can find guidance here.
Using an Advent wreath can be an excellent way to engage your children and make your prayer time more special.
While you'll never be able to take your children's focus completely off the gift receiving aspect of Christmas, you can give them a solid foundation in the meaning of the season.
What are your favorite ways to teach your kids more about the Christmas season?