Teaching your grandkids the meaning of Christmas 32



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I can remember the Christmases I experienced when I was a child. My memories might even be like yours. We’d go to mass on Christmas eve, come home to eat a family dinner and although anxious and anticipating, we’d have to go to bed. My brothers and I would leave a beer out for Santa and a carrot for the reindeer.

We’d go to bed and in the morning, at the crack of dawn, we’d wake up and find a gift in our Christmas stockings by the front door. We’d run down and open them while Mum and Dad watched us and “oohed and aahed” at all of the right times.

It was a special time, filled with excitement and a little self indulgent, but I will always remember opening my gift to find a doll I had wanted so badly, but feeling a little sad at the same time. It was an unusual reaction for a ten year old, but in that minute I spared a minute for the children who unlike me, didn’t get what they had hoped for and didn’t get anything at all.

You see, my brothers and I had spent the three weeks leading up to Christmas helping my grandfather with some work. Not paid work, not work in an office, but work in the community. He was a great man who in his retirement volunteered so much time to helping the local community. He was on the committee at our parish, he had set up a homeless feeding program three nights a week and he helped as a handy man at the local primary and high school. But the most important service work he did was teaching my brothers and I the meaning of Christmas.

Those three weeks of helping out did more for my brothers and I than anything in our lives. It made us have compassion and opened our eyes to the lives of the less fortunate. We sat down with kids at the homeless dinner nights and were faced with children who couldn’t even comprehend the kind of life we lived. We formed friendships with them and in our beautiful innocence we had no judgment towards their situation – only compassion. We gave them food and learnt to appreciate that food isn’t a luxury item in our lives. We spent day in and day out helping out instead of playing with our friends and that taught us that Christmas isn’t about how many presents you get. It is about giving thanks, appreciating what you have and thinking about how you can improve the lives of others.

At the moment, my grandkids are a little too young to understand that, but they have still spent time with my over their school and kindy holidays helping with my community work. I volunteer hours at a hospital in Brisbane in the children’s ward and they came along with me and played with the other children there. It means so much to me that from a young age, they will grow up accepting, understanding and loving children who are less fortunate with them. I really believe that any exposure to people that are less fortunate than us helps them to understand the big picture. Not just of Christmas, but of the world.

I know that not everyone will see the meaning of Christmas as needing to be taught this way and I’m interested to hear how you do teach them, but this is the way that has worked for my family. And I really hope it can continue into the future.

So tell us, what are the ways that you teach your grandchildren the meaning of Christmas?


Starts at 60 Writers

The Starts at 60 writers team seek out interesting topics and write them especially for you.

  1. Life lessons that last. On Mothers Day I take my Grandchildren to the Nursing Home with a bunch of flowers & a box of little Jams. Enjoyed your memories & we should do more.

  2. Everyone should and that was a great story. In my family it’s always been over the generations family first. Probably this is a little selfish doesn’t stop you feeling sorry for others and makes me realise should try more to help others less fortunate.

  3. Beautiful – thanks for sharing your delightful heart. God bless you at Christmas and always. Sadly we live thousands of kms away from our only grandchild so we don’t have much input but whenever we see him we try to show through our everyday lives the messages Jesus taught and he eagerly says grace before a meal and prayers before bedtime. Usually he doesn’t like the baby Jesus figurine from the nativity scene in his home being out in the cupboard until the next year but wants it on display all the time. Precious little munchkin!

  4. Over the years we have been involved in a local charity. At Christmas our two front rooms were filled with food and toys that people had donated. A very dedicated group from our local church made up hampers etc. it was wonderful to see the look on the kids faces etc. our three kids knew what it was all about and also helped out with packing etc. I am proud to say our kids have grown up to be very generous caring and giving adults. It is definitely what Christmas is all about. Hats off to those that are doing this same sort of thing now. God bless

  5. Some schools go to nursing homes at Christmas and sing carols. They older children teach the residents how to use a computer over the year a great connection for all ,the sparkle in their eyes warms your heart. Giving back to the community is an important lesson to us all to think of others. At Christmas we only had a few presents and were so happy with them. We too went to Mass the night before could hardly go to sleep we were so excited.

  6. We forget that we are celebrating the birth of our Lord. Without his blessings we don’t have much to share with others. It is a selfish society now, maybe we have too much. Back then we didn’t have much and was glad to receive even a small gift.

  7. I taught them that Christmas is a birthday celebration for the instigator and leader of our Christian religious ideology. As we cannot give gifts to the man himself we do the next best thing and give gifts to others we love or appreciate.

    2 REPLY
    • Jesus was not just the instigator or a religious ideology. He was not just a man but the most awesome God and creator of the whole universe. The one who came to die to save us from our sins.

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