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PADUCAH, Ky. (BP)--What kind of childhood Christmas memories do you have? A favorite gift? Christmas concerts at church? Watching the annual Christmas parade? Racing down the hall on Christmas morning to tear into the presents under the tree? Eating a holiday meal at Grandma and Grandpa's house?
Regardless of your Christmas memories, it is safe to say that your parents shaped your holiday experiences. And the same will be true for your children. The way you lead your children to celebrate Christmas will create memories which they will take into adulthood.
Kids do not need mixed messages about Christmas from their parents. Children deserve caring, clear and pointed parenting, especially during the season when the birth of Christ is celebrated.
Think about it. Confusing signals abound for kids during the holidays. Children in today's world already have a difficult time distinguishing between fantasy and reality. However, Christmastime often blurs even further the line between what is real and what is not real. Multiple manger scenes may grace the landscape of your home, but until you start celebrating Christmas as a Christian, your children may have difficulty understanding the significance of the holiday.
Excessive materialism, frenzied activity, gluttonous gatherings and yielding to society's expectations may cause your child to wonder if you really believe what you say you believe about Christmas.
We all have seen the front-yard manger scenes where Santa Claus is standing around Baby Jesus along with Joseph, Mary, the shepherds, the wise men and the animals. Could it be that such an image does more harm than good in the mind of a child?
We certainly do not need to jettison all the cultural traditions of Christmas. Kids need the experiences of roasting chestnuts over an open fire, and riding in a one-horse open sleigh would be the dream of a lifetime. But your kids need to realize that Christmas is not primarily about trees, ornaments, stockings, lights, presents or parades.
Kids need to know that Christmas is about Christ. And they will not realize that Christmas is about Christ unless they see that your Christmas is about Him.
Todd Brady is pastor of First Baptist Church in Paducah, Ky. This column first appeared at http://fbcfirstwords.blogspot.com.