Even young children can enjoy the true story of Christmas. Here are some ways that parents have found to teach their kids in an age-appropriate way:
A Shepherd's Tale
My husband, James, came up with a fun way to make Christmas more meaningful for our kids. He dressed in a bedsheet, put a towel on his head and then headed outside, where he grabbed a stick and a little lamb from our Nativity scene. Minutes later, the doorbell rang.
Imagine our children's surprise when James the shepherd told our kids the Christmas story from his perspective. This worked so well that the following year I dressed as the mother of Jesus and told it from her perspective. Our mini dramas help our children more clearly understand the Christmas story.
—Monica Faith Vernot
A Stocking for Jesus
To help our children celebrate Christ's birth and to teach them to be concerned about others, our family hangs a Christmas stocking with Jesus' name on it. On Christmas Eve, we talk about what Jesus would like in His stocking. Our children have come up with ideas such as obeying their parents the first time they're asked, treating others with kindness, sharing with their siblings and showing respect to Mommy and Daddy.
A Bed for Baby Jesus
The children in my church group sat in a circle, and I showed them a basket, cotton balls and a ceramic baby Jesus.
I explained, "Each time you do something kind for someone, we'll put a cotton ball in the basket. The more cotton balls that go into the basket, the softer the bed will be for baby Jesus. On the last day before Christmas break, we will have a birthday party for baby Jesus — with cake — and we'll put Him in the soft bed."
All the children wanted baby Jesus to have a soft bed. So each day, the children went out of their way to do nice things for one another. I even had to purchase more bags of cotton balls.
By the time we were ready for baby Jesus' Christmas party, the bed was filled. We put baby Jesus in the basket and sang "Happy Birthday" to Him. Then we enjoyed birthday cake.
I started using a little manger containing a baby doll wrapped in "swaddling clothes," and this became a meaningful tradition for a number of years. When my 20-month-old son, Ben, saw the manger for the first time, he reached for the doll, picked it up, cuddled and patted it. When he did that, I said, "Jesus loves Ben." Many times, during the days before Christmas, Ben picked up the doll and cuddled it, and each time I affirmed God's love for him.