A friend recently posed a question on Facebook: “Does anyone have any ideas on how to get kids in the true spirit of Christmas?” It’s the age-old question, the inner dilemma many parents face in wanting our kids to see December 25th as so much more than just a day to receive presents. Stacy Voss, author of the new book, Savoring Christmas: 31 Days to Prepare Your Heart for the Messiah, is “here” to share a few thoughts with us.
Stacy, what do you recommend we parents do to help make Christmas more meaningful to our kids?
Let me start by saying I don’t come close to having all the answers on this one. It truly is a beast to tackle, but I’ll gladly share the little I do know about it.
My book, Savoring Christmas: 31 Days to Prepare Your Heart for the Messiah, just came out. Honestly, I didn’t write it intending families to sit down and read it together, but as more and more people are telling me that’s what they’re doing, I’m realizing the book really is a great way to share with kids, perhaps in large part because I reference my own little ones quite a bit. For example, I talk about my Bubba having a meltdown in a toy store a few weeks before Christmas and say that is the meaning of Christmas.
Gabe wailed after I told him he couldn’t buy any toys since Christmas was right around the corner, at least in my mind since it was only a few weeks away. But to a then 5-year-old, it was a different story: “Christmas is just so far away!”
There was a 400-year gap from the time of the last prophet until the birth of Christ. Talk about a long time! It isn’t hard for me to imagine the Israelites crying out, “How much longer, God!” I’ve used that as a teaching point with my kids. Rather than criticizing them for growing impatient around Christmas, we talk about how the Jews must have felt and the eager anticipation it created.
I also pull other examples from my kids, such as when I thought my daughter would be ecstatic over what I got her and she was anything but. It hurt my heart and I wanted to get mad, but then it hit me: how many people were disappointed that the One they were hoping to save them was born in a stinky stable? Oh, yes. Disappointment really does bring meaning to Christmas.
Other than using your kids as examples, what are some other ways Savoring Christmas will help children understand the deeper meaning of Christmas?
Each day has 3-4 optional questions or activities. One of them for Day 1 is to create a treasure box (mimicking Mary’s “treasuring”) by jotting down at least one thing that happens each day throughout advent that helps us prepare for the celebration of the Messiah’s birth, or a treasure of what we learn as we pour into others throughout the month.
I just found an adorable Willow Tree box with a woman holding a heart as if she’s truly treasuring it. I think I’m going to pick one up and challenge my kids to see if we can fill it together this Christmas season.
What are some other things we can do to help our kids better understand the meaning of Christmas?
Last year, my pastor said he gives his kids 3 presents every year. 1 represents the frankincense, which in his house is a more practical gift. The second is for the myrrh, and the third, gold. He said this approach has made it less about seeing who will get more while drawing the focus back to Christ.
Operation Christmas Child and Project Angel Tree are also great ways to let the kiddos pick out items to give away and remind them that there are others who otherwise wouldn’t receive anything for Christmas.
My mom used to work with someone who threw a birthday party for Jesus every year. There was cake, ice-cream, games—everything you’d expect at a kid’s birthday. The main difference was that everyone brought a wrapped gift such as pajamas or jackets that were given to underprivileged children.
Another friend fills a large jar with their spare change all year and then uses it to bless others at Christmas. She says, “We call it our ‘blessing jar’ as a daily reminder that we are called to bless others.”
Stacy, is it too late for someone to start reading your book this year?
Day 1 actually starts on December 1st (remember how I said that disappointment embodies the meaning of Christmas? Well, that comes on December 26th and then the rest of the month is spent praising God for His gift and preparing our hearts to let Him lead us into the New Year.
If someone wants a copy of your book, how can they find it?
It’s on Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/Savoring-Christmas-Devotions-Prepare-Messiah/dp/1502739321/ref=sr_1_4?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1414713003&sr=1-4&keywords=savoring+christmas) in both a paperback and kindle version, and it’s also on my site at www.stacyvoss.com/store.
Stacy, thanks for sharing!