The day has been called: “Christmas,” “The Nativity of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,” “The Day Santa Comes,” “Baby Jesus’ Birthday,” “The Day We Give/Get Presents.” As parents, we have the responsibility of “naming” the day for our families. Orthodox Christians celebrate the nativity, or birth, of Jesus Christ.
Most of us also participate in traditions of our society: food, decorations, socializing, presents. What understanding do we want our children to have? Holiday or Holy Day? How do we tame the monster of materialism so that our children focus on the spiritual truth of the feast?
First, let’s examine our purchasing practices. If the family has a video game system that works, does it need to be replaced? We must set the example, and explain our actions. Children will not see what is wasteful unless we bring it to their attention. Then challenge them with “How might the money be better spent?”
Second, keep the focus on giving. Let’s look at why gifts are part of this holy day. It is because God gave us His Son – the greatest gift of all. Then teach your children how to give, and think outside the “box” – even the Grinch realized that Christmas doesn’t come in a box! Spend time as a family, giving homemade gifts to one another, and gifts of love to those in need. Lavishly praise your children for these valuable gifts they give you and others.
Finally, let’s make sure our children know how to receive, with the gift of God’s Son as our example. We accept and are thankful for Jesus Christ. When your children light a candle at the Nativity service, remind them to say “thank you” to God for His Son. Thankfulness is the response to all gifts, large or small. Seasonal movies such as “The Little Drummer Boy” teach this. Know when these will be on. Stop your busy-ness, watch these together, discuss what is good; and in that quiet moment, remember also to say “thank you” to God for the children He has placed in your care.
by Judy Pappoff, Faith and Family (Dec 2001 pg 18)