So, we’re trying something new around here this year for Christmas. In an effort to fight the legalistic YOU BETTER BE GOOD OR NO PRESENTS vibe that is the exact opposite of what God intended Christ’s birth to be, we’re trying to teach our kids grace.

Over and over and over and over we’ve asked them, “Why do we celebrate Christmas?” “Why do we give gifts?”
Sam: Because we’ve been good for Santa!
Elisabeth: Jesus?
Catie: for Jesus birthday. And for lots of presents.
M and I are trying to go a bit deeper with them. Yes, Santa. Yes, Jesus. But why did God give us Jesus? Because we were good? Because we deserved Him? OR because of grace?
This concept baffles our kids. Every time we ask them to define grace it’s a different (wrong) answer. To them, grace means not tattling. Or not eating junk food. Or any other “good kid” answers they can come up with.
So, I tried for a real-life demonstration yesterday.
Dozens of presents are waiting under our tree. The kids know it’s hands-off until Christmas. In a few weak moments, I might have also said, “if you’re not good, no presents. COAL IN YOUR STOCKINGS!”
The presents have become a beacon of hope for them. Opening them represents all that is right in the world.
Again, not what we want them to learn about Christmas.
Yesterday morning, on the first official day of Christmas break, while the kids orbited me and I tried to make breakfast, and they made beeping noises and sang Christmas carols, I suddenly said, “STOP!”
They stared at me.
“Elisabeth, would you like to open one of your presents?
“Right now?!” She was shocked. Overwhelmed with the scandal of what I had just suggested.
“Yes! This is grace. You don’t have to earn it. You can just HAVE A PRESENT. Just like God freely gave us Jesus.”
We repeated this throughout the day.
By the evening, each of the kids had a brand new gift.
And they were all in tears. One of our worst bedtimes ever.
Why? I’m not sure. Was it the break in their routine? The surprise of the presents before the appointed time? Was it the gifts themselves? Will the crying be even worse when we open the rest of their gifts on Christmas night? Or are the kids worn out from all the present drama? Has all this talk about what you get and deserve been too much? Are they just DONE?
Clearly, I don’t have this parenting business figured out yet. Clearly I’m a disaster here.
I guess it’s good that there’s grace every step of my way.
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