(12/09) As a child, I remember the month of November being all about Thanksgiving. In school we talked about the Pilgrims and the Indians celebrating their harvest. We colored pictures of Turkeys and did cool things with corn. No one ever really mentioned Christmas until after Thanksgiving. I think this
time to give thanks and express gratitude has been over shadowed a little with the commercialization of Christmas. This year I noticed some stores putting Christmas decorations out before Halloween had even come and gone!
Don't get me wrong - I love Christmas just as much as anyone, but as a mother I want to make sure that my kids don't grow up thinking that Christmas is all about the fancy lights and presents and shopping and making lists for Santa Claus. I want them to understand that it is much more than that. I have
always thought that "Thanks"giving was a nice primer, if you will, to the Christmas season. It gets you in the spirit of giving thanks and being grateful for what and who you have in your life.
So the question is - How do we teach our children the Real Meaning of Christmas? We show them. One of the wonderful things about Children is that they are born perfect - and if we are mindful in how we raise them, with a little bit of luck, we won't mess them up too much.
My 4-year-old daughter is already in Christmas mode. A couple weeks ago, I sent her off to spend a special day with her grandmother. They had a great day together. One of the things that they did was go to a Christmas Craft Fair. That evening when my daughter came home she was carrying the most
beautiful little box I had ever seen. It was wrapped just perfectly - 4 year old style. The paper was cut uneven and wrinkled where the tape was carefully placed. It was topped with a pretty ribbon that didn't match the paper on the box and she had made a card that was too big for the envelope that it was in. The best part was
the smile that was on her face when she brought it to me. She was so happy and I could see that she felt so good about this gift that she had bought and wrapped for me that day. The gift was not bought to be given to me that day, but my daughter was so excited about it that her grandmother couldn't NOT let her bring it home to
me. We decided that I would keep it on the table until Christmas, but… we only lasted 2 days - She was so excited - I didn't want to ruin it for her - so I let her talk me into opening it early. I'm still not sure whether that was right or wrong… but, that's not important right now. What is important to me is that she "gets
it" - she feels great about giving. She experienced the "Christmas Spirit" and doesn't even realize it. Now I think my job as parent is to nurture her nature and make sure that she understands why it feels so good to give.
As a parent of a 1 ½ year old and a 4 year old, I am very excited about Christmas this year - It is going to be SO much fun. I love the holiday season. And I need to keep in mind that the Christmas experiences my children have now and throughout their childhood will be the foundation for how they regard
Christmas for the rest of their life. I want my children to grow up smelling, tasting, hearing and feeling Christmas. So - during my "time-out" time this evening, I realized that there are several "little things" that I can do to show my children that Christmas is more than new toys and great food.
- This year when we go to pick out our "perfect" Christmas tree. I will explain to my children that the Christmas Tree is a fir tree and it remains green all year round symbolizing everlasting hope.
- And, when we place the wreath on our door, I will explain to my children that the wreath symbolizes the real nature of love. Real love never ceases - it is a continuous circle, just like the shape of the wreath.
- And when we are decorating our tree and get to the candy canes - I will try to explain that the candy cane represents the shepherds' crook and if they eat all of the candy canes the shepherd won't be able to bring the lost sheep back to their family. I will remind them that we are responsible for
taking care of each other.
- And, when we carefully place the angel on the top of our tree, I will explain how it was the angels who announced the birth of baby Jesus.
- When we hear the wonderful sound of jingling bells - I will tell my children that the bell symbolizes guidance and return. The lost sheep were found by the sound of the bell.
- And, when we talk about Santa Claus - we will speak of his generosity and the good will that he symbolizes. Santa Claus is not what Christmas is about, but he is a great role model for my kids. He is serving God when he delivers gifts to everyone. We should all be a little more like him.
Let's try to focus on the beauty of the season and teach our children that Christmas is about Christ. It is a religious holiday first. The spirit of giving will be in our hearts and in our children's hearts and in our grand children's hearts and on and on if that is what we teach them.
As far as the commercialism at Christmas… Although I personally would rather see it start after Thanksgiving and maybe be a little less loud, greedy and materialistic; I'm okay with it because in spite of the hubbub the message still comes through. And - after all - Who doesn't love pretty lights, yummy
pastries and Christmas music around the clock?
Merry Christmas and enjoy those precious children!
Read other articles by Abigail Shiyer