Sending a letter to Santa Claus may not be on your mind as an adult, but if you are around children during the month of December that may be the only topic discussed when you bring up Christmas. Having two children has enabled me to play the role of Kris Kringle for many years…and I love it- wouldn’t trade the experience!
I recall looking forward to jotting down my material wants, ranked from most desirable to kinda-can’t-live-without, as a child. Writing a letter to a mysterious person that eluded me each year seemed exciting but at the same time left me riveted with curiosity every December 25th. When I questioned the existence of Santa my mother would always tell me, “As long as you believe, he will make a visit”. I find myself repeating that same line to my elementary age son as my teenage daughter has made it very clear that she no longer believes. As a parent, trying to keep that innocence alive in my children proves to be more and more difficult as they grow older. Doing little things like sprinkling powdered sugar on the hearth (snow), stringing cotton ball fuzz on the bricks of the fireplace (Santa’s beard), devouring all of the cookies (carrot sticks and OJ in our house- Santa may be lactose intolerant, who knows!) and milk and scribbling “thank you” onto the letter left informing Santa that the goodies are for him may keep the kids wondering but will one day only receive eye rolls and sighs of embarrassment.
How do I keep the “believing spirit” alive in my children when it comes to God? It’s tough to tell your kids to trust in something that they can not see or touch during this time of instant proof. I resort to teaching by example; as long as I SHOW my children that doing the right things are important I may have a better shot at keeping their hearts on the path to Jesus. It’s more of a challenge when you have a child with disabilities that does not think or comprehend things the same way as you. I find this very familiar territory when it comes to my youngest. He is a literal individual and has a hard time understanding concepts of heart. He tends to trust and follow things and people that he can literally touch. Explaining to my son that God is the most powerful being and that God’s love is so great always seems to get lost in translation. My son thinks that Jesus is an actual physical person that resides in the church building and that is perfectly OK with me. As long as God and Jesus remain on his lips, I’m content but trying to explain empathy and selflessness to my six year old is an entirely different obstacle. This is where the SHOWING comes in.
I teach my children, throughout the year, that it’s important to recognize those less fortunate than themselves, help people that are struggling, do nice things-helpful things-without being asked, etc. But during the holidays I find myself pushing this lesson a little more than usual. Each year I decrease the number of gifts given by Santa, by one, for each child and always leave one gift for the kids to share. My hopes in doing this is that both of my kids will see how unimportant gifts can be in the grand scheme of things.
How do you encourage your children to be more Christ like??