“My idea of Christmas, whether old-fashioned or modern, is very simple: loving others. Come to think of it, why do we have to wait for Christmas to do that?”
― Bob Hope
“Christmas, my child, is love in action.”
― Dale Evans Rogers
It’s that time of year again. Like clockwork, the tree is up the day after Thanksgiving, since I already completed my Black Friday shopping from the comfort of my couch on Thursday. The candles are in the window, the decorations dispersed. It’s Christmas Time again!
We’ve been a bit slack with Advent this year. While Ellie was super-excited when we pulled out our Adornaments from Family Life from the Christmas box, the season has been too busy, and it’s been hard to remember to sit down and learn and re-learn about what this season is really about. Of course, it could have something to do with the fact that we have like five spare minutes every night between supper, feeding the sometimes-cranky-one, baths, dishes, bedtime…it never ends. But try we do, and learn we do…despite our failures and likely misplaced priorities.
And of course, Ellie has to be involved in everything. The eagerness of children never ceases to amaze me.
She helps make Christmas cookies, helps decorate, helps shop and choose presents, is Queen-of-the-tape as she helps wrap Christmas presents. She sits enthralled as we read through every Adornament and carefully places each representation of who He is on the tree. In every way possible, that eager little child is involved.
But I love that for her, Christmas is not about Santa. It’s not even really about the presents. When she goes to Story Hour and hears about Santa he’s really more of an addition to Christmas than Christmas itself for her. We have chosen not to embrace the tale of Mr. Clause, and as she grows and learns I couldn’t appreciate this decision more.
When Santa was mentioned in a book that we were reading together she said to me “Santa just doesn’t bring people presents, Mommy and Daddy do.” At which point I was able to reinforce that Mommy and Daddy give her presents as we remember that Jesus was the best present anyone ever got, and that we give presents to help us remember and celebrate that Jesus was born into this world for us. Her stocking is already filled, and she has helped fill everyone else’s stocking. And when she asks why we do this, I remind her again…this time of year we give each other gifts to remind us of the best gift of all. With every little adapted tradition we remind her what Christmas is really about. And though she is only almost-three, she really is getting it.
While we were wrapping presents one day, she decided that we needed a present for Jesus. So she went and got some K-cups, created a cardboard container of sorts, and proceeded to wrap them securely with tape.
Lots and lots of tape.
And she put this little gift underneath our Christmas tree.
Talk about melting your heart. That is what Christmas is about right there. Simple gifts, given from a heart filled with much love. And at almost-three she understands.
Because Christmas is not about the lights. It’s not about the tree. It’s not about the presents, or stockings, or decorations. It’s about Jesus, and remembering the love that he showed us; it’s about realizing the gift that He was when he was born on this earth. And the ultimate gift that his life was: forgiveness.
It’s about your almost-three-year-old carrying around the book This Is The Star and showing everyone the picture in the book of baby Jesus. And getting really upset when you tell her that Jesus was born in a sort of barn, and likely surrounded by animals.
And while the lights, trees, presents, stockings and traditions themselves are not ‘bad’, it’s so easy to get lost in the repetition year after year. But you can pull yourself back to reality and use these things to help remind you what Christmas is really about.
Little children have a way of helping us remember the important things in life.
And just like that, there you are. In the middle of Walmart conversing with your child about Jesus, and how much He loves us…amidst all the Christmas trees, elves, Clauses, and ornaments…and it just feels so right. And all the complications and pressures of the yuletide season seem to just fade away. No matter how much it surrounds us, the way the world chooses to remember the birth of our Savior does not need to dictate how we choose to remember; only we can make that choice.
And so my dear children…I hope that you always remember these lessons learned in your childhood. Christmas is not complicated. It actually is quite simple. Christmas is love. Love born to us thousands of years ago. Love that continues to love. Christmas truly is love in action.