Letters From Santa
Did you believe in Santa when you were a child?
Memories of Christmas' Past
What is the most memorable Christmas of your childhood? Do you have one that stands out above all the rest and that you think of often, maybe one that brought you particular joy and elation, or one that brought you close to the baby that came and was laid in the manger, only to die for our sins later? I do not have memories of a Christmas that brought me any particular joy other than the things that I got, which honestly I can't remember most of them. The one present that I do remember I still have today, my 12ga shotgun that I received for christmas of 1992. I cannot say that the actual meaning of Christmas ever really came into play at my house when I was growing up, or that I would have really remembered it if it had. I do know however, that I remember that it was all about gifts.
There was more than one Christmas when I was growing up that I was sick over Christmas vacation from school. I remember when I was 8 I had the chicken pox and I had them so bad that there were even blisters on the bottom of my feet. There was another year that stands out because I had the flu and could not even eat christmas dinner! In other words most of my memories center around what happened to me and I think that is pretty typical for all of us. What I want is to change that for my children. I want my children to remember the feeling they had when they got up, not because of presents but because there was love in the house and they felt secure, safe, and Loved! I want to build memories and start traditions that my children will cherrish always and will even carry on with their children.
Another thing that stands out in my memory is the food that we ate at Christmas! The pies that my mother would fix and in particular the pecan pies! They were always my favorite, and the punch that we had, and we only had it for Christmas, it was so rich and flavorful even though it couldn't have been good for you it still was good for the spirit, it gave you something to hang a memory on, a taste. Sometimes we need physical or sensory things in which to hang a memory on or we will not remember. That is another thing that I am trying to do is give my kids plenty of mental "hooks" on which to hang their memories. Hooks like food, books, and letters.
I give gifts just like everyone else and would have it no other way, and I love and cherrish the gifts that I receive from my children, the crafts and pictures, all the love that goes into making them and all the talent that they use in making them. I like to give gifts and to recieve them as well just as much as the next guy. I never think that I give my children enough even though I know and my faith tells me that gifts is not what this season is about.
The greatest gift that we give is the knowledge of the Christmas story, and the reading of it on Christmas morning before any presents are opened. There are also several advent devotionals that are a great way to prepare your heart and the hearts of your children for the day of Christmas in the weeks leading up to it. This is a tradition that my wife and I have begun just this year. The reading of these devotionals has prepared us for the devotional on Christmas morning, the devotional of reading the story of the birth of our savior, the greatest gift ever given.
Keep in mind this season the real reason for the season and the tone that you set for your children. What message are you sending? Is it a message like my parents sent me that it is all about the presents and what you can get on Christmas? Or is it the message that I am trying to send to my children through the reading of the advent devotionals that we have used this year, that the Christmas season is about reflection on the gift that God himself gave so long ago... The gift of God with us! Emmanuel! Jesus, Wonderful Counselor, Prince of Peace.
Did you read an Advent Devotional with your parents as a child?
Food is another item that recieves a lot of attention this time of year, well lets face it food gets a lot of attention all the time. This is a good thing to take advantage of, it gives you mental hooks to hang things on, things like memories of helping to prepare the meal. Preparation can be made into a family event, instead of one member preparing the meal and everyone else sitting and waiting to devour it as a group and then leaving it for one person to clean up. This is the season of giving right? Then lets give the gift of help to the main keeper of the food and offer our help. Not only will things get done quicker, but things will taste better to everyone and there will be more time to enjoy each other if everyone chips in. What a great gift for the one who is usually stuck in the kitchen all by themselves, than to help them on such an important day, when they want everything to be perfect so that great memories can be made. Memories for them as well and not just for the rest of the family.
What better way to celebrate an important event like Christmas than with the gift of music! If your children, or even you play an instrument then what a better gift to your savior than an offering of your talent. Music is another one of those mental hooks that help us to remember events in our lives. One way that we have begun to incorporate this into our Christmas preperation is to take our children and a couple of friends to an event held by our local symphony orchestra, known as The Symphony of Toys. This is a wonderful event and exposes the children to classical music and in an environment that is kind of fun.
This year they had a world renowned violinest as the star of the show, she has appeared all over the world with different orchestras as the star. Two of my children play violin so this was a great way to show them what was possible and to encourage them in their work to master such a beautiful instrument.
The culture that they get from such an environment is a great influence as well and they take away the fact that music and the arts are important ways to express our faith as christians. They also take away that they can glorify God and Jesus with their talents. These mental hooks will help them to remember the Christmas' past of their lives and will help them to pass down the stories that are important to them. The memories that taught them lessons, and the years that inspired them to work harder, and acheive more!
Did you write letters to Santa when you were growing up?
Letters from Santa
I have started a tradition at my house of Letters from Santa. This concept is foreign to most as most people only write to Santa, and never expect a letter in reply. My kids on the other hand have this family tradition as another hook on which to hang memories, and later in life they will look at the letters from their author (me) and know how much they really mean. Maybe one day they will cherrish them and tell their kids stories of the vivid Christmas' they remember because of the hooks that were so deliberatly hung on the walls of their heart and mind by their parents that love them so much. This is a huge reason to do this, another thing you can do is to have each person in the family to keep a Christmas journal when they are old enough and have learned to write.
During this time of the year at home we make sure that we focus on the real reason for this celebration. The reason of Christ coming to earth, Emmanuel, to save us from our sinful nature and to reconcile us to our creator. An advent devotional for the month leading up to Christmas is a great way to incorporate this into a busy schedule. The devotions will take less than a half of an hour and can be done at any time during the day,maybe at bedtime, or before saying grace to eat the main meal of the day. Either way to incorporate this into your season is a rewarding excercise and will add extra hooks on the mind of your children.
Have a Merry Christmas and a blessed New Year!
As the Season Approaches
Remember as the season approaches to start building lasting memories, spend time with your kids doing something a little out of the ordinary, something fun. Lasting memories are better hung on the hooks of music, food, or an event, so plan wisely.... plan to remember, and your kids will too.