The alarm rings in the too dark, too early morning and I stumble over to her room. Air purifier clicks off, curtains are pushed to the side, blinds twisted open. My girl is snuggled down somewhere in her bed, under fuzzy blanket and pillows that have been kicked and pushed around. This toddler of mine, she’s barely still even when she’s asleep. I click the button on her mini Christmas tree and she wakes up slowly under the twinkling lights – and like her mama, not always in the brightest of spirits.
Books about Christmas sit around, reminders of our bedtime routine that now includes opening an ornament and reading from Unwrapping the Greatest Gift. At three, my little can hardly sit through the reading, instead bouncing around with stuffed animals, playing with her tree and finding 100 reasons to ask “why.” She races to hang the ornament on our banister and we try to remember if she’s torn off a ring on her Christmas countdown paper chain. The mornings are yet one more Christmas countdown experience, this time an Advent calendar with little doors to open that reveal Lego figures while we try to get dressed, brush hair, find shoes, and get out the door for school on time while promising that we’ll watch the new Christmas Mickey Mouse Clubhouse after school and fielding questions about Santa.
Like Olaf in Frozen I look at this list and think “all good things, all good things.” But part of my heart wonders what my girl will really know about the reason we celebrate Christmas. Will it be some sort of mash-up of advent and presents and crafts and Santa? And if I want to make sure she enters Christmas morning knowing it’s really all about Jesus – not the gifts with her name on them under the tree – how can I do that if she won’t even sit still? How do I make the Christmas story accessible to her?
If there are three parts to Christmas I want my three year old to remember before, during, and after all the presents, it comes down to this – and the three scriptures I can share with her to help tell the story:
- Jesus was born in a manger (Luke 2:7) – There was no princess castle, no glitter, no fancy outfit to wear to the party the night Jesus was born. God wasn’t concerned about appearances or grand entrances – He sent His son to be born and live with us, here in our ordinary every day – and He’s still with us.
- Jesus is the greatest gift we could ever receive (Luke 2:11) – Our Christmas lists include clothes, toys and games, but we’ll eventually outgrow all of those. We’ll play too hard, lose a piece, get a hole in our new shirt or simply grow up and create a whole new list of of gifts we want. When God sent Jesus to be with us, He gave us the best gift, the only gift that we can never outgrow, use up, lose, or break.
- Jesus loves you (John 3:16) – God loves you so much that He sent His son to be born in a manger and be with us here on earth. Jesus loves you so much that He died for us, and now He can live forever with us in our hearts and help us every day.
Three little sentences. Three short verses. A three year old who might just understand a little more about Christmas than her mama could ever pray for, by the grace of God.
May the Truth of the season, the love and grace of Jesus, and the joy of the only gift that can never be lost or broken shine brightly in your homes this Christmas. With much love, from my family to yours.