Christmas is a great time to teach children about giving and receiving gifts, about selfishness and loving others. Some years I do better at making worthwhile gifts with the children to give to others. Other years, I feel like all my good intentions simmered in a pot but never left it (say, “child under 18 months”). In eleven years of marriage, I’ve never yet managed to have a family photo sent out with a charming Christmas letter, although several years I’ve actually written letters, and some years I’ve ordered pictures. (If you didn’t get one, don’t worry, because nobody else did either!)
This year we made some gifts, and let the children earn money to spend on other gifts (we overpay them, but they don’t realize that yet). Tonight as we were driving home from visiting daddy at the hospital, I asked them if they could tell me why we give gifts at Christmas time.
One child mentioned the wise men who brought gifts to Jesus. One brought up that Jesus was a gift. I asked what made Jesus a gift. They really didn’t know how to explain it, so I helped a bit by explaining that Jesus coming to earth as a baby was part of God’s plan to provide salvation.
I asked them how they hoped their family and friends would respond when they opened their gifts. Then I asked whether they would feel bad if someone opened a gift they bought and said, “I don’t want this gift” and didn’t take it. They all agreed that would be terrible. (I need to tell them about the time I did exactly that when I was five.)
I told them that God offers his gift of salvation. When we say, “Not now,” we’re saying “I don’t want this gift” to God.
I decided that giving gifts is a good time to talk about salvation, too.