Tuesday, December 1, 2009

"For to us a child is born. . . "

For to us a child is born,
       to us a son is given,
       and the government will be on his shoulders.
       And he will be called
       Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
       Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
 (Isaiah 9:6)

Now that the Advent season is upon us, I am faced with the challenge of conveying to my children the real meaning of all the preparations for December 25th.  Actually, I should back up and say that I am faced with the blessing of conveying this to my children.  It is a blessing to be able to try to convey the magnitude, the miracle, the wonder of it all!  But I will say it is also a challenge.  How do you celebrate Christmas with young children and not have it be all about the presents?

Well, in some ways, it is all about the presents and there's no way getting around that.  When you are a little kid, the excitement of it, the anticipation, the wonder gets mixed in with presents.  And that's okay, in my opinion, as long as it doesn't get out of hand.  We tend to let them get excited about anticipating presents, but also reign them in when it feels like they are just selfishly wishing and hoping. 
I think a big (very very big) way to help your children not focus on presents (or just "things" in general) is to limit their television watching.  I know lots of people say that, but I see a very big different in my children's attitudes when they have been watching tv and when they haven't.  We don't own a television.  That's for another post though . . .we won't get into that now. 

So having said that, some practical things we do:
+We do an advent reading every night.  It's short and sweet.  We light our advent candle, we read Scripture, and we sing a song.  Then they get a small treat. 
+We tell them the story of Christ's birth over and over and over again.  We read books about it.  We focus on it as much as we can while we're decorating and baking and partying.
+This year we're also doing a Jesse tree.  I'm sure most of you have heard of it.  There are a lot of resources out there to do this.  We're using this book.

Oh, and in case anyone is wondering about Santa Claus.  We tell our kids about the real Santa Claus, Saint Nicholas.  There are plenty of books out there to read about Saint Nicholas.  I just recently found several I hadn't read at my local library.  We have this book and I like it a lot too.  Everyone does the Santa Claus thing differently and I tend to not want to mettle with your way of doing things when it comes to St. Nick.  Do whatever you feel is right.

Lastly, I got several Christmas book suggestions from here, if you're interested.  She has several along her sidebar.

So there you go.  My ideas.  Anyone want to share your ideas? 


Danneca said...

You are a stinking brilliant mother. Can you come and be my children's mother during advent?

Stephanie said...

We had so much fun the year we came up with corresponding activities and games to go with the reading. Like we all hid around the house and one person had a flashlight and all the other lights were off. One person, who had stayed in another room tracked down the person with a light. It's amazing how much a little light shines in the darkness. But after the first two weeks we had a much harder time coming up with great things. I do remember we made a banner with the names of God on it. Wonderful counselor and all that.

joel said...

Oh, I remember when you did that, Steph. You could do a whole post on those ideas. That was great. If I remember right, your kids really got a lot of meaning out of it.

Bethany said...

okay, I know it says Joel. It's really me, Bethany.