Parenting with the Bible is written by Bible scholar and child expert, Caryl W. Krueger. Caryl is the author of 15 books about parenting, including The Parenting Encyclopedia, and 1001 MoreThings to Do with Your Kids. Both of these books and many others of Caryl’s CDs, cassettes, and books are available on Shop BibleWise.
Gifts for the Christ Child
Amid the flurry of mall and internet gift shopping, take a moment to consider whose birthday we are honoring. Certainly the baby Jesus didn't get traditional gifts when he was born. But what might we give the Christ child some 2000+ years later? The lovely poem and hymn "In the Bleak Midwinter" has a suggestion. The last verse says:
Just what can I give him, Poor and shy I am?
If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb;
If I were a wise man, I would do my part;
Yes, what can I give him? I will give my heart.
Consider encouraging your family to give to the Christ child gifts from the heart. What might these be? Should they be wrapped and tied with a bow? Many of the gifts we could give are reflections of gifts that God and His Christ are continually giving to us. Find a quiet time to spend with your family, talking about giving something of oneself. (It might be the gift of healing, praying for a family member.) And when one of these gifts has been experienced by a child, he should make a short note of it, tie it with a ribbon, and hang it on the tree or put it under the tree with the other gifts. Then when it is package-opening time, the gifts honoring the baby Jesus can be opened, too.
Each youngster and parent should strive to give a gift from the heart.
Here are some ideas and I'm sure your youngsters will think of more!
The Gift of Peace. Jesus brought peace between arguing disciples, peace to stormy seas, peace between family members. And in the Beatitudes, he blesses the peacemakers with the title "children of God." One youngster may choose this gift of Peace by trying vigorously to keep harmony in the family when there is an argument.
The Gift of Comfort. All through his ministry, Jesus brought comfort by healing so many physical challenges. He promises that if we take his yoke on us (that means to follow his laws), we will be comforted. A youngster should look for opportunities to comfort others (in words and deeds), giving this blessing to family, friends, pets. This is an easy gift and suitable for the youngest of children to give.
The Gift of Love. Jesus loved little children, but he also loved people of other races, other belief systems, even those who did not love him. In fact, he said to bless those who cursed and hated us. A youngster can consider who the hated are in present-day life. It could be world leaders, school bullies, folks whose way of life is different from ours. Choosing one, he can think about some loveable qualities which that person has and endeavor to see him as a child of God.
The Gift of Forgiveness. Jesus was a master of forgiveness - he forgave those disciples who did not support him, those who crucified him as he said "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do." If Jesus can forgive under such circumstances, surely a youngster can find an occasion this month to forgive.
The Gift of Joy. With so many exciting events this month, kids often forget their blessings and become moody, unappreciative, selfish. Ask the entire family to give one another a month of joy (and expect it to continue in the new year!) As a parent, note when youngsters express happiness and enthusiasm. Write these up as your gifts.
When these gifts are opened, keep them, cherish them, as gifts to honor the Christ child but also as gifts to all humankind.