A Catholic Convert in Ottawa

Teaching Our Children the Reason for the Season

Posted on: December 4, 2014

gingerbread house

My then-7-year-old son with a gingerbread house he’d decorated

If we were to ask young children what’s important about the Christmas season, they might offer answers such as these:

  • putting up decorations around the house and on the tree
  • shopping for and wrapping gifts
  • making Christmas cookies
  • sending Christmas cards
  • planning to visit relatives

After all, children see us putting in a lot of time and effort into accomplishing all these tasks before the big day. Even adults who are people of faith might give similar answers.

I understand this. I love sending Christmas cards. I just finished a big house cleaning before the decorations go up. I enjoy making, buying and wrapping gifts; listening to Christmas music; baking those once-a-year-treats; and visiting with my extended family.

But if we want our children to become adults who keep the Christ in Christmas, we need to show them that Christmas is more than a time for giving gifts and eating special treats.

  • We can encourage them to take part in the children’s liturgy and the Christmas pageant at church and/or at school.
  • We can share the Christmas story from the Gospel according to Luke and play Christmas carols at home.
  • We can teach them to prepare for Christmas by lighting the candles on our Advent wreath to mark the Sundays of Advent; attending reconciliation services; making Advent crafts such as those in Arma Dei’s A Treasure Chest of Traditions for Catholic Families; and serving others by preparing Christmas food hampers, bringing cookies and much-needed toiletries and warm clothing to the local mission, and so on.

As we teach our children and youth what Advent and Christmas are truly about, I pray that our focus would be on Jesus and the miracle of his coming to us through the Incarnation.

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Food for Thought

(Y)ou do not know about tomorrow. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and we shall do this or that.” ~ James 4:14-15

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