Here’s the million-dollar question every conscientious parent asks at Christmas: How can I get my kids (and myself) to focus on the real meaning of Christmas? Well, if you are asking those questions, kudos to you. You’re off to a great start because you can only find answers to questions if you ask the questions.
I’ve lived through 31 Christmases as a mother, so let me give you my thoughts. Here’s what I have found works for me and I’d love to hear from others who have found pretty good answers too. First, I shift my thinking at the beginning of Advent to see the entire month of December as a different and holy time. I used to focus only on Christmas day but really, if you take the whole month to slow down and re shift your focus, this give you more time to talk with your kids about why we prepare for the birth of Christ. The best way to make sure you bring Advent into your home is to put a simple Advent wreath on the kitchen table. Even if no one’s home with you, light the candle appropriate for the week.
Then, I make sure to put a child-friendly crèche where kids can see it. Find a simple wooden nativity scene and put it on the coffee table in the family room and let the kids play with it. As they do, ask them questions like, “I wonder if it was really cold when Mary rode the donkey that night?” or “I wonder if Mary and Joseph were scared as they took off for Bethlehem?” Asking kids questions that pull them into the story trigger their imaginations and they will come up with great answers. Be ready to listen to them and make sure to let them talk. When necessary, give the correct answers after they are finished.