It is a rather delicate task for parents; teaching the meaning of Christmas amidst all the commercialism of gift giving. The following things are some of the methods we used for our children:
Advent is one of the best ways to encourage the idea that Christmas is the birthday of Christ. Advent calendars can help children see the days pass until Christmas, and weekly candle lightings at home are also a good way of teaching. If you’re like me, making one isn’t all that easy. However, there are many calendars on sale, and most of them are reusable.
While it can be difficult to find an Advent wreath, I recommend the effort. My husband found ours on a website selling products for churches. Anytime candle lighting is involved, it seems like children’s interest is piqued. A generation raised on electricity for light finds candlelight unique.
The candles are lit once a week, on Sunday. The first Sunday, light one, the second, light that one and another. The third week you light those two and the only different colored candle in the wreath. The third Sunday’s candle is named the Shepherd’s Candle and also the Candle of Joy. On the fourth Sunday you light all of the outer candles. The center candle is called the Christ Candle is lighted Christmas morning.
There are readings for each Sunday, and they can be found on various websites. The book of Isaiah and the book of Luke are the two main sources for the readings. After you’ve read the passages, ask your children questions about what the readings mean.
Use your nativity set to show what is happening in each reading. The readings for this week have the angels talking to Zachariah and Mary. The Wise Men are a little closer to the main scene and the journey is about to begin for Joseph and Mary.
On Christmas Day, we let the children see what “Santa” brought, but no presents could be unwrapped until after we lit the Christ candle and read the Christmas story. This also helped to bring home the idea that the best Gift isn’t under the Christmas tree, it was in a manger.
Our youth pastor suggested that a birthday cake be baked for Jesus. With all the other food being served, this might be a problem. On the other hand, it can be one of the strongest ways of letting your children know that Christmas is Christ’s birthday. He had the birthday and we got the Present.