We often hear about the benefits of seeing Christmas through the eyes of a child…
Sharing the reason for the season with children
I almost didn’t get this column written. Or at least that’s what it felt like at the time.
I’m a night owl, so even though it’s out of traditional working hours, I do the majority of my writing at night. It’s when the juices flow, when the creativity comes alive and when there’s enough quiet in the house for me to settle down and focus on the task at hand.
At least that used to be the case. But I must confess that right now things are less placid than they used to be in the later hours for our family of four. Like the shepherds must have crept toward the manger on that wondrous Christmas night, so my children’s bedtime has crept from reasonable to manageable to downright preposterous during this season of festivity.
It’s hard to help it. We have spent our days, like many of you have, frolicking and playing the Eskimo way this season. There has been cookie-baking, decorating, family time, dancing, church-ing, caroling, dancing, coloring, dining out, dining in, present-opening, paper-chaining, gingerbread house making, Christmas-lights viewing, and general revelry and merriment. Who wants to go to bed?
The celebratory season at my house has been rolling this year. My parents, and brother and sister, with their significant others, made the trip up to Indiana from North Carolina to ease our travel burden and spend some time with the kids on the first weekend of December. It was fantastic. But because of the early celebrating, by Dec. 14, the 2 1/2-year-old was asking if it was still Christmastime. It’s still Advent, we reminded him, pointing to the Advent wreath and the Nativity scenes that didn’t yet have the baby Jesus in them. And no, you still cannot open that box from Amazon. It’s been complicated.
Though it’s Joseph’s third Christmas (and Anne’s first!), I am still getting used to this time of the year with kids in the house. Christmas shopping happens at night and online (around the writing). Meal planning must take into account little people’s tastes, and we need to make room at the dining room table for both the booster seat and high chair. (Yes, usually we just eat in the kitchen.) Presents can’t go under the tree early lest they “accidentally” also be opened early. Christmas cookie baking involves a lot more flour on the floor. And the bottom branches of that same tree, mostly in one particular spot, are overloaded with ornaments placed there by our little Christmas elf. It is, in every way, delightful.
With all the celebration, we have to keep reminding ourselves to explain to the little ones the reason for the season. Why all the merriment? Why the wrapped packages, and stockings hanging from the mantle, and tinsel on the tree? Why the family visits and special meals and different songs?
Answering these questions, passing on the Faith, is the best part of the season as parents. But how does one put into “kid speak” that we are celebrating the coming of Jesus, the one who “emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance”? The one who “humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross” (Phil 2:7-8)? And the one whose coming we await again? I’m not totally sure. But we kneel before the manger, genuflect in the presence of the tabernacle, point to Jesus on the cross and talk about how much he loves us. We place Mary, Joseph, shepherds, angels, animals and Wise Men in a stable, gazing at the tiny baby in a manger. We laugh with family, we play with new toys, we sing around the piano about the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
And we go to bed late. Because Christ is born, the savior has come. And the world rejoices.
Gretchen R. Crowe is editorial director for periodicals at OSV. Follow her on Twitter @GretchenOSV.