Exploring the Christmas Story with Kids
3 tips, no matter what your tradition
Happy Christmastime! Around here that means the leaves have started to turn colors and we sometimes wear pants instead of shorts. California Christmas doesn’t fit the mold, and I love it.
Speaking of molds, when it comes to kids and the Christmas story, there isn’t one you should be trying to fit this season. There are 100 right ways to invite your kids into the Christmas story. So however that works for your family, I wanted to offer 3 ways to strengthen the quality of conversations you have together, taken from the conversation Sarah @parentingafterdeconstruction and I had a couple weeks back.
Name that the story is familiar, and then use imagination and play to bring freshness.
It can be really helpful, especially as kids get older, to name that the story is well known. Kids may start the eye-roll “I know this story.” Meet them there and say, “Yeah, you do. Of course you do. This is an anchoring story in our faith. But let’s pretend we don’t. Mary tells you she was going to have a baby. What are you thinking? Go!”
Invite your kid with you to acknowledge the familiarity, which helps teach them how we circle around the same stories in our faith.
Don’t get stuck on the details of the story that feel complicated–lean into wonder and cultivate curiosity.
If you spend any time being a critical thinker around this story, you’ve engaged with questions like: Was it a virgin birth? What should we make of angelic appearances? How does this story fit the nativity scenes we encounter? and so on.
Your experience with the story is its own and critical thinking is a great scripture skill. But remember to enter the story with your kid on their terms. They don’t have your same experience in the story.
Your goal with your kids is to lean into wonder and cultivate curiosity. You don’t need to be a Christmas expert. As your kid notices things, follow up with, “That does sound amazing—I wonder… what that might have been like? how that person felt? if the way that happened is important?”
The more you include the Christmas story in your traditions and rituals early on, the more you can do it in small parts, circle around it over and over, and take time with any questions that do come up along the way.
And if you read the story on Christmas Eve or Day, do consider: do your kids want celebration but you want reflection? You might be working at cross purposes to ask kids who are full of excitement to be focused and somber as if that’s more spiritual. The celebration is spiritual, too. Perhaps the time for quiet reflection could happen at an earlier date.
May your Christmas season be full of wonder and joy.
P.S. There are 4 Ask Away episodes with the Christmas story from last year for you!
Our Zippee Curriculum has a family version! We’ve divided the Christmas story into 5, and offered a story guide, wonder questions, and a menu of over 20 ideas for responding to the story—all centered around play and wonder.