By Dawn Reed
I love Christmas with kids. It’s not the present part, but the Jesus part. Last year, I gushed about my BFF Kaylena. She was two and was C-R-A-Z-Y about baby Jesus. She soaked up the Christmas story like candy-and she LOVES candy! She sucked in air every time she saw Him (pretend baby Jesus). She held Him and shushed Him and then DID NOT want to share when we passed Him around. We had to pry Him out of her hands!
Now, Miss Kaylena is MUCH older and wiser; she’s three. She knows ALL the answers to the Christmas story questions and answers them super quick. She is great now at taking turns-even with baby Jesus.
This year…Madi is learning about the story of Christmas for the first time. (Her Mom is a new Christian!) It’s all new to her, and because she is smart, she asks really good questions! Madi has been making glitter angels, Christmas crafts and picture sheets for weeks. She has been pretending to be Mary with one of her babies being baby Jesus. (Her Mom sent me the pic.) Her Papaw even built her a stable for her manger scene! Madi was thrilled! One day, when Madi’s Mom was talking about the real meaning of Christmas, she said, “Presents are great, but it’s really Jesus’ birthday.” Madi thought about that for a minute and then asked, “When is God’s birthday?” Yes, we know that God always has been and always will be, but try explaining THAT to a four year-old!
When they went to see the Christmas lights at Archer Park, Madi was so excited to see the manger scene. “I think God LOVES these lights!” she squealed from the back seat.
Christmas plays are awesome, too! I can remember years ago, when our pastor’s kids were in an unforgettable one. His son, six, played Joseph, while his three year old daughter was the angel Gabriel. For the manger scene, baby Jesus was a doll they had borrowed from “Gabriel”, but she didn’t know it. Everything was fine and dandy until Gabriel, standing by the manger, looked down to see her baby in the hay. Naturally, she planned to take possession of her missing doll. Joseph would have none of it. As the narrator read the precious Bible verses about the wonderful, miraculous birth of the Messiah, a skirmish broke out right there in the make-shift stable over who exactly got to hold, or keep baby Jesus! It was so funny because it wasn’t my kids!
Over the years, I’ve seen wise men hit with shepherds staffs and preschool animals roaming loose in the stable AND sanctuary. Mom’s give the “I’m totally serious” look, trying to get their kids to be still, be quiet or stop whatever they are doing. It rarely works. For some reason when kids know you can’t lay hands on them because they are right in front of everyone, they do whatever they want.
This year during the Christmas play, one of our “sheep” was all over the place. (He is soooo funny and is quite the dancer.) He was wiggling all over the place, up and down the stairs of the stage. Finally, his Mom had had enough. She army crawled across the front of the church and grabbed him by the tail-literally! His tan tail was sticking out on the back of his costume and it was all she could reach. Crack me up!
I can’t remember the first time I heard the Christmas story or my first Christmas play, but I know exactly when I realized just Who Jesus was and that He loved me very much. I was eight and a half and I will never, ever forget it. I didn’t know how important He would be to me and how much I would need him throughout my life. I have an amazing and wonderful husband, but the real love of my life is Jesus! (I’ve gotten all watery-eyed typing now.)
I keep thinking about the song “Jesus Loves the Little Children”. Really, the children love Jesus, too, when they hear about Him. It’s just when we grow up that we make it so complicated.