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Post by PAHaworth »

Society is secular and Christmas is becoming secularized. ‘Next thing, they’ll be bringing religion into Christmas!’ This started out as a clergyman’s joke. Now, keep your ears open, and you will hear it around any overtly Christian display in a department store or bookshop in the run-up to Christmas. Secularism is in the schools. We may have aided and abetted the secular Christmas by giving the impression that the festival is all about gifts, consumption and TV. So how do you give your child the right idea about Christmas?

Here are ten suggestions:
1. Sing the music of Christmas with your child. Don’t worry about your musical ability or lack of it. Put it on the hi-fi, and talk about the meaning of the words of those familiar carols.
2. Visit a nativity scene. In most towns there’s a nativity scene with figures of Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus with, perhaps, the shepherds and the sheep. This can be an excellent visual aid to teach a child the story of Christmas.
3. Read about Christmas traditions. Your local library can help you here. Learn about the origin of Christmas customs with a view to discriminating between the sacred and the secular. Make sure that the Gospel story is central and that Santa Claus, the tree, the holly and the mistletoe, are identified as inessential frills.
4. Tell of your own childhood Christmases. Children want and need a sense of their own beginning. This is a good time to bring out the photograph albums and share the family history with your child. Christmases really were better in the old days!
5. Build your own family traditions. Introduce your child to activities you enjoyed when you were young, or establish new traditions. A visit to a carol concert or a Christmas service is more important than a visit to Santa Clause.
6. Turn ‘What do you want for Christmas?’ questions into ‘What do you do for Christmas?’ Children sometimes seem self-centred when they answer the barrage of ‘What will Santa Claus bring you?’ questions from adults. Focusing on pre-Christmas activities may shift attention away from the opening of gifts and lessen some of the pre-holiday tension. One excellent activity is to make Christmas gifts with your child. Not only is this a delightful activity in itself, but it has the added benefit of helping a child understand that gifts of love need not be expensive.
7. Teach your child to give. Even a small child can help select - or better still, make - a gift for a family member. Older children, of course, need less help in choosing gifts. But may need help in finding ways to earn money needed for them. Build into Christmas visits to the elderly, the lonely, and those in homes and institutions – and make sure your children are with you.
8. Tell the Christmas story. The story found in Luke 2 is usually the easiest for children to under- stand, but even it may need to be paraphrased for younger children. You might try writing out your own paraphrase of the story, then have your children illustrate it.
9. Plan Christmas meals with your child. If Christmas lunch is traditionally at a grandparents’ house, plan a Christmas eve or Christmas morning meal with your child. Let your child assign the duties and assume as much responsibility for it as he or she can. Their joy in presenting their cooking will more than compensate for their still- developing skills.
10. Worship with your child. Plan family devotionals that centre around the Christmas story. Above all things, your child needs to realize that the Christmas season is a religious event.
With permission from: FOCUS VOLUME FOURTEEN NUMBER FOUR - Editor: DAVID MARSHALL The Stanborough Press Ltd.. Alma Park, Grantham.

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