How can we parents remember the true meaning of Christmas and as a consequence, teach our preschoolers to do the same?
Parents, pray about it!
You don’t have to devote a long time to doing so, but it would be good to pray about what Christmas is really all about. What does Jesus’ birth mean? What is the Christmas story teaching us? And most importantly, how can we impart this to our children—whose education in the faith God has entrusted to us?
Bedtime stories can have Christmas as its theme.
There are many beautiful storybooks in book sales about the different characters in the Nativity story (i.e. about the donkey, the star, the littlest angel, etc.). Serve hot chocolate together with storytime, and this will surely be a Christmas season to remember for you and your precocious tots!
Get a belen your child can play with.
When we decorate our homes for Christmas, for whom are we doing it? This year, you may want to consider buying a belen that you and your children can happily hold and play with. Or, put your creative juices to work and build a belen with your preschooler. Lots of ideas are available on the Internet or in kiddie craft books. Afterwards, the belen you made together can form part of your nightly storytelling. Each night, you and your child can pretend to be a different character in the story!
Play good Christmas music.
Music always makes the Christmas season so festive. And our preschoolers enjoy singing popular Christmas songs that they hear in the malls and on the radio. Let us be proactive and play songs that tell about the birth of the Baby Jesus! Some examples of such songs are: Away in a Manger, Hark! The Herald Angels Sing, Joy to the World, We Three Kings, The First Noel, and Come All Ye Faithful. And how about Silent Night for singing right before bedtime? We can also have friends over and have a Baby Jesus-themed caroling party.
Have Santa Claus occupy his rightful place.
Of course, Christmas would not be complete without Santa Claus! And I am not here to dash your and your children’s fun to the ground by telling you to say goodbye to Santa Claus. The Santa Claus tradition is actually about being generous and making others happy with our gifts. But, let not our focus be only on the giftgiving. To prepare our children for the coming of Santa Claus, we can tell them the story of Saint Nicholas, the real man on whom the tradition is based.
Also, we can make the Santa Claus gifts but one part of our Christmas Day schedule. You may want to consider bringing your little ones to Christmas Eve Mass, then opening their Santa Claus gifts on Christmas morning. Or, attend Christmas Mass in the morning, then open their gifts in the afternoon.
More importantly, preparing our Santa Claus gifts for our preschoolers should not be the center of our attention! Whatever it is we give our children will surely make them happy.
Personally, I believe the birth of the Baby Jesus is God’s way of clearly showing us that we are His children—no matter how old we may be! Oftentimes, we parents forget this fact as we take on the many responsibilities of parenthood. We have to be so “grownup” all the time. Now that it is Christmas season, let us remember to be little children again before Our Lord. We can ask the Baby Jesus, Mama Mary and Saint Joseph to guide us in our parenting—an often-demanding and exhausting job!
Also, the Nativity story is about “keeping life simple.” We parents sometimes like to overthink the future and want everything to be picture-perfect for our children. We want to give them the best material things, the most wonderful home, the best education. All of these are good intentions, but we sometimes forget to count on Our Lord’s blessings that He will help us provide for the most essential needs of our little ones.
It is when we parents learn to be little children again before God, and to abandon everything in His hands that I believe we will be able to teach our own children about the true meaning of Christmas.
This post was written by Meg Murrf Trinidad.