Teaching My Tots About Christmas
I was asked recently to write a short article describing my five favorite things about the holidays and how I plan on sharing these traditions with my three small children. I conjured up my fondest memories of the holidays in an instant and I had my list ready for review before you could say, Jack Frost nipping at your nose.
Taking a moment to look back over my list, I felt a warm sense of pride building up inside of me. You see, in a day and age when people say Christmas has become too commercialized and no one focuses on the true meanings of Christmas, somehow my most treasured memories had absolutely nothing to do with gifts, shopping, or even Santa. Just good old fashioned family fun, the sheer magic of the holidays and a whole lot of childlike anticipation of things to come.
After a quick call to my parents to say Thanks, I sat down and developed a plan to instill these same traditions (and a few new ones) into the hearts and minds of my children. This year’s plan of attack involved making each day of December a day for us to remember. It’s not technically advent, but similar … I’ve started affectionately referring to our efforts as, “Everyday’s a Holiday” and I honestly could not tell you who is loving it more, me or my children.
I started out by making a list of fun, but simple activities I could accomplish with two toddlers and an infant. The activities centered around making food and crafts, random acts of kindness, family outings, and most importantly focusing on the real reason for the season—the birth of Jesus Christ.
Since my children are three and under, this is really the first year we’ve focused on Jesus being the reason for the season. I began by telling them the story of Christmas each night before bed, elaborating a bit more and more each time. Tonight was the tenth installment of our story and this time, my two-year-old actually recited the story to ME. I can’t tell you how much it warmed my heart knowing my children are starting to understand that Christmas has a much deeper meaning than Santa and presents under the tree.
I did a lot of reading on ways to teach the story of Christmas to small children and implemented a new tradition in our home this year. I purchased some soft, tan yarn and found an ornate purple velvet box that once held a glass Christmas ornament. We call the box, Jesus’ bed, and every time one of the children does a particularly good deed or something kind, they get to place one piece of straw (tan yarn) in the bed. Eventually, the bed will be soft and fluffy and made with love for Jesus to rest in on his arrival. They’ve really taken to this tradition and are very excited to fill the bed with love and kindness and make it warm and cozy for baby Jesus. Driving around our city and looking at various nativity scenes has really helped to visualize this process for them.
I’m also trying to focus more on doing things by hand and making the whole holiday a bit simpler for our family. We are making most of the decorations for our house and our tree ourselves this year. Recycled magazine Christmas trees, wreaths made from paper plates and Christmas bows, scented pine cones, candy canes, ribbon and poinsettias are all we really need to make our home feel full of holiday cheer. For the yard, we’ve fashioned bird seed ornaments in the shape of stars and constructed popcorn garland to hang in our trees. My pathway is lit with tin can luminaries, made after a hearty Sunday Soup Supper.
Sure, my kids are still excited that Santa Claus is coming to town and honestly, I wouldn’t have it any other way but I’m also proud of the traditions we are starting at such an early age and hopeful that when my kids have kids, it will be these memories that they cherish the most as well.
I’m curious to hear from others, are you implementing any new traditions in your home this year? I’d love to hear all about them …