Christmas to a Child: How Do You Explain It?

“When will we buy a beautiful Christmas tree and decorations?” “When do we start shopping for gifts?” A pinch deep inside was felt by a parent upon hearing the child’s questions.

Amid all the flashy decorations and lights everywhere seen during the holiday season, any child would marvel in awe yet wonder why they can’t have those fabulous displays at home. It’s Christmas season, isn’t it natural that a house should be full of happy lights and joyous ornaments? Can one merely shrug off and avoid answering the open question? How can you tell a child that you can’t afford even the most basic bare plastic tree?

The children start reciting their wishlist. Everyone in the class will be receiving theirs and will later be telling stories of the amounts of toys and gadgets they have received from their parents, uncles and aunts at Christmas. Somehow, this dreaded feeling looms over those parents who can’t afford those toys and gadgets seen in ads everywhere as Christmas draws near. The pockets are nearly empty and the credit cards all maxed out. What is to be done now?

While everyone around is busy organizing and attending parties, going to and fro in their shopping sprees half expecting that the gifts they will receive will somewhat commensurate with what they have spent; braving the traffic, the long lines, the cacophony of the blaring carols from every store. It’s time to go back to the basics.

This is the perfect time to tell the Christmas story. Each child recalls from the stories they’ve read and heard about the scene at Bethlehem the night that Jesus was born. Everybody was busy. There was no room at the inn.

Only a manger was available–no frills—bare as ever. No heating, but the warmth of the mother’s embrace. No flashy lighting effects— but look above, God provided a glorious star. No blaring music—but the angels sang. Ordinary mortals who could afford the inn were not aware at that time, they were just too busy. The news was announced. It was an announcement that changed the course of human history forever. There was no press conference of famous people to hear the latest news. It was announced to the lowliest of the social classes—the shepherds. Joseph and Mary did not mind if they were nobody to the upper social strata. They were rejected and so they remained under the radar. They were nobodies. But they didn’t mind because they had Jesus with them. Who could ask for more?

Christmas is a joyous season. All the sparkles, the frills, the commerciality of it all, should not affect you negatively if it’s beyond your capacity to spend. Why use the whole month’s food budget to buy a tree you can’t afford, or buy extravagant gifts to please people who don’t even mind your existence for the most part of the year (except during Christmas when it’s time for them to expect gifts from you)?

Go deeper beyond the surface of the spectacular sights and sounds. Celebrate from within. The nativity scene is a humble yet priceless example of a family’s closeness despite everything that is happening around.

In today’s time, a good tradition to start for your family before the gift-giving rounds is to gather together and recount the real story of Christmas and in the process thanking God for sending His son to earth for us. Making the children aware of what Christmas is all about; making the season real to them in deeper ways is a lifetime gift they will never forget. If we have Jesus, in us, then everyday is worth celebrating. Cheer up! It’s Christmas time.

© 2010 Athena Goodlight