So Much More Than Presents
By Arlene Pellicane
Drama. Big eyes. Belly laughter. Discovery. These are just some of the joys of having a preschooler in the house. At Christmas, all the wonder of the season is magnified through miniature eyes if you will pause to look down at your little preschooler.
I have a 4-year-old daughter named Lucy who loves singing “Jingle Bells” even though she invents new words to the song each time around. She runs to the Christmas tree to be the first one to switch on the lights. She points to several toys in the store and exclaims with delight, “Put THAT on my Christmas list!”
Lucy is the youngest of our three children, so we are soaking in the magic of her silliness this season. Naturally, we want Christmas to be more to her than a new princess present or decorating a tree. Like you, we want Christmas to come alive to our preschooler – making an indelible impression that Christmas is the most festive of holidays because it represents the greatest gift of all. The birth of Christ.
Here are seven ideas to help you make Christmas memorable to your preschooler:
1. Go to a little train or carousel in the shopping mall or park. Then add this musical twist. Give your child a bell to ring while she rides. Tell your child that Christ’s coming is worth announcing (like with a bell!). The other holiday riders should find it very festive and smile with approval. If not, just take the bells away after the ride is over and walk away quickly.
2. Take a walk around your neighborhood in search of Christmas lights. It’s fun to bundle up and have an adventure right past your doorstep. Vote on which house is the best overall, most creative, and personal favorite. Give your preschooler a flashlight for this North Pole adventure (plus the light is great for safety). Talk as you walk about how Jesus is the light of the world and how the light shines through the darkness.
3. Make or buy photo ornaments. Put your child’s picture in it and date the back. Any child, especially a preschooler, gets a kick out of seeing his photograph on the tree. Cup your child’s face in your hands and say, “Jesus sees you on our Christmas tree, and He can see you every day, wherever you are!” Add a new photo ornament each year and watch how your children grow, right on your Christmas tree.
4. Have a birthday party for Jesus. Invite your family and maybe even a handful of friends. Read the Christmas story from the Gospel of Luke and have the kids act out the different parts. Use scarves and coats to dress as shepherds, Mary and Joseph. A doll or stuffed animal makes a fine baby Jesus. Enjoy a birthday cake for baby Jesus and celebrate His birth, the best birthday of all.
5. Make Christmas cards for teachers. Draw Christmas trees, or cut out shapes to make trees, candles or candy canes. Ask your child what she would like to say to her preschool teacher, Sunday School teacher, or special friend. Write down a few sentences and have your child sign the card or color in her name. Have your child deliver the card in person. Make a big deal of your child sharing the love of Jesus through her card and thoughtfulness.
6. Create a hot chocolate bar with toppings. Stuck at home one night? Make the most of it with a hot chocolate extravaganza. Use whatever you have on hand for toppings: whipped cream, ice cream, sprinkles, cinnamon, or chocolate chips. This point won’t be lost on your preschooler: Jesus makes life sweet!
7. Bake cookies and take them to a nursing home. Your preschooler will love all the attention he receives when walking through the halls. Call ahead and ask the activity director if there’s a certain resident that needs cheering up, or if there’s a special event they need goodies for. Tell your preschooler that Jesus came at Christmas to be the Savior for everyone, young and old alike.
As you make special memories with your preschooler, she will understand that Christmas is truly the most wonderful time of the year. Fill your preschooler’s days with meaningful activities that will reach out to others. When you and your preschooler have something to look forward to that honors Christ, the season will come alive to you and your whole family.
Arlene Pellicane is a speaker and author of 31 Days to Becoming a Happy Wife and 31 Days to a Happy Husband. She has been a guest on Family Life Today, The 700 Club, Turning Point with David Jeremiah, and The Hour of Power. Arlene and her husband James live in San Diego with their three children. Visit Arlene’s website at www.TheHappyHusband.com.