Jingle bells, carolers, the hum of 200 strands of Christmas lights, toy commercials two whole decimals louder than the Christmas movie, your crazy uncle’s tacky sweater that plays “Grandpa Got Run Over By A Reindeer”—Christmas can be noisy, to say the least!
By no means is it all bad though. I mean who doesn’t love to hear the four year old nearly swallow the microphone, in efforts to say her lines at the preschool pageant? Or the ringing jingle from the Salvation Army bucket on our way to pick up milk and eggs?
As we sit in a crowded coffee shop to write this article it becomes blatantly clear that we haven’t had a quiet moment yet this season. With the crunch of the grinder, the hiss of the steamer, the ding of the credit card chip reader and Bing Crosby pouring from the speaker directly overhead, this certainly isn’t it.
Now, if that’s what you and I experience as adults just think about the even bigger, brighter, louder distractions felt, seen and heard by little eyes and ears this time of year. As parents of two young children who are in love with everything Yuletide, we feel a growing responsibility to find a way to cut through some of this Christmas clatter.
The truth is, even if they don’t realize it, our children crave a break—just a little time away from the noise—to rest and even catch their breath. These are the moments we teach them what Christmas means to us as Christians.
We hear it over and over from parents and experience it in our own family: what we desire for our kids to understand most about Christmas Time is not very loud at all—it’s actually pretty quiet. The “Silent Night” kind of quiet.
A gentle baby lies in a feeding box because there are no available rooms. A loving mother quietly treasures the moment in her heart. A proud father filled with gratitude and expectation looks on. Shepherds, weary from their journey, bow in humble worship. If you listen closely you can almost hear the rustling of a donkey’s hoof in the fresh hay and the soft ‘baa’ of a sheep somewhere in the distance. This moment, while the angels in heaven rejoice, time is split in half and the world is changed forever, is actually pretty quiet. All is calm. All is bright.
So, with our kids’ attention being pulled in a million different ways on a daily basis, how do we direct their focus toward that very first Christmas?
In our home, we do it by simply following the example of that “O Holy Night” so many years ago. We’re still. We reflect in front of the fireplace after reading the Christmas story together. We get creative with an Advent craft at the kitchen table. We journey with a shepherd doll around the house in his search for the baby Jesus. We take cookies to our friends at the local nursing home and talk about what it means to put others before ourselves. While tucking our kids in bed, we ask them things like, “What do you think Mary was thinking on her way to Bethlehem?”
The truth is, even if they don’t realize it, our children crave a break—just a little time away from the noise—to rest and even catch their breath. These are the moments we teach them what Christmas means to us as Christians. Why it’s a compound word and what the first part means, not just in December but in our lives year round. You see, we desire for our kids to know that Christmas is about Jesus and that Jesus is all about Christmas. The way He chose to enter our flawed, broken and fragile world says everything about how He feels about us. Christmas is about God’s extraordinarily abounding love; giving it, receiving it, embracing it and accepting it.
Now, in-between these quiet moments that we create, we find a place for a whole lot of noise. We love Christmas and we want our kids to love it too. So, we dance (badly) to “Rockin Around the Christmas Tree.” We get powdered sugar in our hair, making and baking cookies. We shout “Happy Birthday!” to Jesus. We make a big deal about how Santa fits down the chimney on Christmas eve and stay up late watching the news to track his progress. We embrace the noise. We get in on it and make some of our own. It is the most wonderful time of year after all! But, we don’t let the noise drown out the nativity or let the craziness outshine the Christ child.
All this hoopla, after all, is really about a moment that came and went without the innkeeper next door even knowing it happened! We desire for our kids to know that moment. To anticipate and celebrate what and who Christmas is really about.
One day our kids will have kids and how we celebrate this time of year now will play a huge role in how they pass traditions along to their kids. The legacy they leave is directly attached to us. And the legacy we desire to leave is Jesus. Jesus at Christmas and every day throughout the year.