If we look through a child’s eyes at Christmas time, what do you think we would see? Would it be presents under the tree, spying to see Santa’s sleigh, or maybe the warm goodies coming out of the oven and the Christmas music playing in the background. We all have memories of what Christmas means to us and special traditions that have been passed down, sometimes for generations. Over the years, so much of Christmas has been commercialized that the spirit and meaning of the holiday is lost with our checklists, baking, buying the perfect gift for Susie, and last minute exchanges at the store. Every year I keep thinking, “this is my year to make a difference.” I’ll volunteer at the local shelter, I’ll help a family who doesn’t have much this time of year, and I’ll help someone feel the true meaning of Christmas. Sadly, I find myself falling short of my holiday goals and always promise myself I’ll do better next year.
I know I may fall short in many areas during the holidays, but the one thing we always made time for each Christmas was sitting down as a family to re-enact many of the Christmas stories and share the purpose of what Christmas truly means to us and to the world. When my kids were little, it was very hard for them to sit still and listen to all the stories so we tried many fun activities and ways to interact with them.
One of our favorite family activities was learning about the symbols of Christmas. I decided to make it more meaningful and fun by recreating Santa’s bag and stuffing it full with items that had Christmas meaning. One by one, they took out the items and we recited the poems that went with them. Here’s our fun tradition that you can follow with your own children.
Create a fun Santa’s bag and fill it with small objects or ornaments you have laying around your home. You’ll need a Christmas tree, a star, the color red, a bell, Christmas bow, candy cane, a wreath, and any other items that show the true meaning of Christmas. As an extra bonus, this activity is a great way to help improve your child’s sensory and motor input. Since our main goal is to keep our child’s body and mind active through the winter months, this is a dual opportunity to enhance cognitive development during the holidays while opening them up to the meaning behind Christmas. This activity can apply to all religions and what the holidays mean to you. Feel free to add any items that show your children what you believe in this time of year.
Here are some of the items we put in our Santa’s bag:
This is a wonderful ornament we took off our tree and added to our bag. You can explain that the star symbolizes a heavenly prophecy fulfilled long ago and is a symbol of shining hope for all mankind.
The Color Red
We took a red bulb off our Christmas tree to incorporate the color red. This is the first color of Christmas that symbolizes the sacrifice that was made.
You can purchase a small tree at your local craft shop, at the dollar store, or make your own out of felt. The tree is the second color of Christmas (evergreen) and symbolizes everlasting life. You can also point out that the needles on every fir tree always point upward toward heaven.
A bell shouldn’t be too hard to find among your Christmas decorations, but you can also purchase one at the dollar store. The bell rings out to guide the lost sheep back to the fold. This signifies that we are always watched over in our time of need.
The candle mirrors starlight and reflects our thanks and gratitude for the Star and this time of year.
The Gift Bow
The bow symbolizes unity and how we should all be tied together in goodwill and service toward our fellowman forever.
This is one of the greatest symbols of all and by far my favorite. It signifies a never ending circle that shows the eternal nature of love. It has no end and no beginning, meaning we should love everyone.
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