When your kids hear “Jingle Bells” and see Santa, what’s their first thought? Getting? Or giving? We might be surprised at how fully our children and teens understand the real meaning of Christmas. While we’re sometimes perplexed by the commercialism and the “lost meaning,” kids often have an easier time connecting Christmas and all its ornamentation to the compassionate promise of Jesus. They approach it in a much more simple way: God loved the world so much that He gave us Jesus, and that’s what Christmas is all about. Santa gives. Mom and Dad give. Even the jingle bell ringer in front of the mall is receiving just so he or she can give to others.
When we have compassion, we connect deeply enough with others to really feel what they’re going through. Because we feel what they feel, we’re moved to act in a way that can bring hope and practical relief to them. That can be a pretty big concept for young children, but even the youngest have experienced enough that they get it when we point out how a difficult situation makes life hard for someone in need. We need to remember to not get too obsessed with gifts and just live the holiday out like humans, nurturing each other.
Compassion is “caring enough to do something about someone else’s need.” From the earliest age, we can train our kids to look for the needs around them, then to think about ways they can help meet those needs. Christmas is the perfect time to do that. It’s almost like the entire society, from the music we hear on the radio to the displays set up in the mall, is set up to help us demonstrate this one principle in our families: one of the best ways we can show we love Jesus is by loving others.
As you make your holiday rounds, find ways to let your children see the needs of others, then go the extra step with them in meeting those needs in meaningful ways. Get personally involved, and make sure your children are right beside you in appropriate ways. The meaning of Christmas isn’t as hidden as we sometimes think: the gracious, compassionate Gift of God is all around us.
What are some ways that you and your kids are showing compassion to others this Christmas?