As grandparents, we have wonderful opportunities to connect with our grandkids during the holidays — to celebrate Christmas, influence and bring out the best in them. As Deuteronomy 4:9 says: “Take care, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things that your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. Make them known to your children and your children’s children.” According to this verse, we are to teach two generations, not just one. As a spiritual matriarch or patriarch of our families, we have the opportunity to pass on our faith. And what better time than at Christmas? Here are some ways we can do that within different family structures:
Denise dreaded Christmas. What used to be a joy-filled holiday was now a date she wished wasn’t even on the calendar. A rift had grown between her and her daughter. Still, Denise wanted her grandkids to know about God. Is your family like Denise’s? Is tension, hurt feelings or outright animosity dominating the atmosphere?
As an elder in your family, try to take responsibility for restoring peace so you can be an influencer in your grandkids’ lives. First, ask for forgiveness. If you think you don’t need to, look at the relationship through the eyes of others, especially your grandchildren. Then make sure you see the broken relationship, not the other person, as the enemy. Young children will pick up on this. Even if change doesn’t happen this Christmas, dream of a better relationship in the future, and make this holiday season a step toward reaching that goal.
It’s fascinating that Jesus, the complete embodiment of both grace and truth (John 1:14), often led with grace. If you’ve tried to get your kids and grandkids to see things your way (that’s leading with truth) and it’s not working, then change to leading with grace. Try to genuinely understand their point of view, then forgive and love unconditionally.
Dominique and Crystal made a big deal about Christmas, but the focus was on Santa, elf movies, decorations and lots of expensive gifts, especially from the other grandparents who were more financially able to be extravagant. Dom’s parents, Will and Nina, were frustrated. Nothing in their grandchildren’s Christmas focused on Jesus, and whenever it was mentioned, Crystal would flippantly say, “We just want Christmas to be fun for our kids.”
When Christ is left out of Christmas, either by the parents’ decision or overindulgent gift giving, grandparents still shouldn’t go against the parents’ wishes. After all, the parents are responsible for the children, not the grands. And your goal is to keep a healthy relationship with both the kids and the grandkids.
If the parents don’t mind your weaving the Christmas story into the holiday for your grandchildren, here are two fun activities that can be done with grandkids:
• My friends Tina and Ray “kidnap” their grandkids to go view Christmas lights. Doing that allows them to naturally talk about Jesus’ birth when they go by a house with a manger scene.
• My friend Elaine helps create a pre-Christmas event that is packed full of faith-based crafts, movies, snacks and fun for her grands.
Telling kids about Jesus at Christmas is organic, so grandparents don’t need to push an agenda. Instead, have fun with your grandkids and then you may have the opportunity to respond to their questions about Jesus.
Stale Christmas celebrations with grandkids
Alfonse and Maria enjoyed close relationships with their three daughters and spouses. All were believers and made a genuine effort to celebrate the real meaning of Christmas. Maria noticed some of their grandkids were tuning out the familiar Scriptures. They needed a fresh approach to how they reminded the grandchildren of Jesus’ birth.
As grandparents, we are perfectly poised to make a difference in our grandchildren’s lives. Here are some Christmas activities you can do to make a spiritual impact on your grandkids this holiday season:
• Before you gather, ask family members for their favorite Christmas carol, and make a playlist of family favorites for background music during the day. At an appropriate time, ask each one to share why he or she likes that carol and how it reminds them of Jesus’ birth.
• Ask your grandkids what Jesus means to them. Then share your own faith story, describing what you have seen God do in your life and in those around us.
• Write one verse of the Christmas story on each gift tag for your grandchildren. Ask them to put the Scriptures in order and read them before they open their presents.
• Read Scripture passages that prophecy about the Messiah, such as 2 Samuel 7:12-16, Isaiah 7:14, Isaiah 9:6 and Micah 5:2. In advance, write and then giftwrap passages that show how Jesus fulfilled each prophecy (Luke 1:31-33, Matthew 1:18-25, Matthew 4:13-16 and Luke 2:5). Allow your grandkids to unwrap the Bible passages and connect them with the prophecies.
• On decorative paper, write out John 1:14, Galatians 4:4-5, Philippians 2:6-8 and other passages that point out the theological implications of Jesus’ birth. Roll them as scrolls and hang them on the Christmas tree. As you tell the Christmas story, ask your grandkids to find all the scrolls on the tree and then give them to you or their parents to read.
• Prepare a few items that represent God’s gifts to the world. In gift bags, put a statement or symbol of how the birth of Jesus impacted human history. For example, on a gift tag, write “To: all women, From: Jesus.” Inside put a card with Galatians 3:28 and the word equality on it, with your own statement about how Jesus impacted the status of women. On another, write “To: the sick, From: Jesus.” On the card inside write “medical care” and a statement about how Matthew 25:37-40 was the motivation behind the world’s first civilian hospitals.
Remember, as grandparents, we are perfectly poised to make a difference in our grandchildren’s lives. It’s what we’re called to do, no matter our family dynamics. So make a spiritual impact this Christmas on your grandkids. It may require prayer, creativity, communication with your adult kids and effort. But it is possible, and believe me, it will be well worth your effort!