by Alyssa Jones
As I worked from the table in the formal-dining-room-turned-pandemic-home-office, I spied my daughter tiptoe into the kitchen. She had paper, glue sticks, and safety scissors we picked up from her preschool teacher in a drive-through procession, and the 2020 Walmart toy catalog. Nearly an hour later, she came to me.
“Mommy, I want these. All of them,” she said, presenting three pages of pictures she cut out from products related to animals, the color pink, and/or baby dolls.
As the weather cools and leaves change, my 4- and 6-year-olds have both had Christmas on their minds. They frequently tell me what they want on their wish lists.
“Hey, you guys,” I stopped them one day. “Christmas isn’t all about presents. Do you remember why we celebrate Christmas?”
My first-grade son stared at me blankly. My daughter shouted, “No! It is about PRESENTS!”
OK, this is not looking good for someone who has spent the last decade writing resources for teaching children about Jesus. In my defense, they are not ignorant to the story of the nativity. Every year since they were born, we’ve talked about the true meaning of Christmas. But this important message is easily lost in a materialistic world. Here’s how I’m planning to help reorient my own kids this year. Maybe these ideas will help you too.
- Use repetition.
Kids learn best from repetition. If my kids see a commercial for a toy, they decide they want it—even more so if they see it multiple times. The world is sending them messages about what is most important, so I want to guide and point them to the most important message of all: Jesus saves sinners. God came into the world as a baby. He is the reason we celebrate. We will talk about this as we make dinner, as we pick up toys, as we get ready for bed. I want them to know that Jesus is my greatest treasure, and I hope they will come to know Him as theirs as well.
- Observe Advent.
Waiting is hard for kids, but we use Lifeway Kids’ Advent Guide leading up to Christmas as a daily reminder of why we celebrate. We prepare our home and our hearts to remember Jesus’ birth and its glorious implications for our lives. We have a small paper Advent tree for hanging ornaments and set aside a special time after dinner for reading the Bible, answering our kids’ questions, and anticipating Christmas.
When my daughter finished her three-page wish list, my husband gently suggested, “Wow, those are some neat toys. Do you see any on there we could buy to give to someone else? What gifts do you think your cousins would like?” We talk a lot in our house about thinking of others. “Why are you fighting with your sister? Are you thinking of her or yourself right now?” Every person’s natural bent as a sinner is an inward one, and selflessness must be practiced and learned. We readily see it in our children, but it’s a struggle for us as adults too. Make generosity a family priority and remind kids of our generous God who sent His Son for us.
We give good gifts to our children, remembering that God has given us the greatest gift in Jesus. We will intentionally talk with our kids about the meaning of Christmas in a materialistic world that tells them Christmas is all about family, presents, food, or decorations. At just the right time, God sent His Son into the world. (See Galatians 4:4.) This is good news of peace and joy for a world that so desperately needs it. I’m praying for your kids—and my own—to hear about, remember, and treasure Jesus above all else. He is God with us.
Alyssa Jones worships and serves with her husband at Refuge Franklin, a church plant outside of Nashville, Tennessee. They have three children.