By Carolyn Tomlin
Contributing Writer, B&R
Several years ago, I watched a group of kindergarten children sing “Silent Night” in an assisted living center. With angelic faces and sparkling eyes, these 5-year-old little ones had memorized the first stanza of this beautiful old Christmas hymn. Watching the faces of those in the audience, I saw eyes brimming with tears … perhaps remembering Christmas past when their own children had been in a church program. Or, recalling their own childhood when their family had gone out together and cut a tree from the family farm.
Perhaps without realizing the impact this simple event had on those in attendance, these children were giving of themselves and bringing joy to others. They were sharing the good news of the birth of the Christ child.
The Christmas season is different this year. With COVID-19, we are told to wear masks, to social distance and to avoid crowds outside our own family. Many of our traditional holiday gatherings have been canceled. However, Hebrews 13:8 says, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and today, and forever.” While keeping safe, we must find ways to teach children the ‘real’ meaning of Christmas. We cannot miss Christmas! Could these ideas work for your family?
- Zoom friends and family. Schedule a time for those near and far to participate in a family Christmas program. Ask each person to recall a special Christmas memory.
- Start a giving tree. In large towns and small communities, there are people who need warm winter clothing. Talk with your local mayor or county officials and designate a small tree in a public place. Help children hang warm caps, mittens, scarfs, and socks for those in need. Attach a small card to each with a prayer that God loves you. Helping others and being aware of their need should start at an early age.
- Blessing boxes. This idea of sharing the love of Christ with others is catching on in towns across Tennessee. With many parents unemployed due to the virus, people are in need of food and basic supplies. Help children collect cans of soup, crackers, peanut butter and other small non-perishable items. Place them in Blessing Boxes in your area. Involve children in praying for those who need the items.
- Christmas Collage. Using a piece of posterboard, help young children cut out and glue magazine pictures (or illustrate by drawing) that remind them of Christmas. Talk with your child and ask, “Why this picture reminds you of Christmas?” “Would this be something to share with another friend?” “Would this picture bring joy to others?”
- Letter to grandparents. As a personal gift, encourage children to write a monthly letter to grandparents. Or, they could draw a picture of something they’ve done this month to help others. Perhaps there are older adults in your church who do not have grandchildren who would appreciate a letter.
Although we may not be able to be with family and friends this year, don’t neglect to teach children the ‘real’ meaning of Christmas. Stay prayerful and hopeful while celebrating the birth of Christ this holiday season.
— Tomlin, of Jackson, writes for the Christian magazine and newspaper market.