I had a 'first' today in my classroom. Each year near Christmas, I always ask the same question. I have asked it every single year for 12 years. Just to get the ball rolling. I ask...
"What is the real reason we have Christmas? Why did it all start?"
Every single year.....until this year....kids start shouting about it being Jesus' birthday. They know about Mary and Joseph, the barn, the manger, the wise men, the shepherds, the star.....most could go on and with the the beautiful details. Of course, there are always some that aren't familiar with the story, so the kids who know the story backwards and forwards are able to give all the details so that the story gets told to the class.
I am usually just the moderator. The kids can almost always tell the whole thing.
But this year, when I asked the question...no one mentioned that it was Jesus' birthday. The kids excitedly exclaimed that Santa would come. I wasn't shocked initially by the responses. I am talking to five year olds. So I reworded the question.
"Yeah, I know that Santa comes and brings gifts...but what else? Why do we celebrate Christmas? Why did Christmas ever get started?"
The kindergarteners excitedly proclaimed that we have Christmas to open presents and get surprises and have a Christmas tree.
I tried several other questions to draw it out of them with no success. I was thinking by this point that they obviously are not understanding my point here. It's gotta be that I am saying it the wrong way.
So as to not confuse them any further, I asked.....
"But whose birthday is it on Christmas?"
Finally, finally, a little girl answered that it was Jesus' birthday on Christmas!
I sat shocked at how far down the list the real meaning of Christmas had fallen.
And since we were discussing it and they asked questions.....of course I was obligated to tell the whole story. Thankfully, after I started telling the story, several of the kids memories of the story woke up and they were able to add in some of the details and events of the birth of Jesus.
All the Christmas 'stuff ' is fun. The crafts, the gifts, the food, Santa, stockings, the songs, the lights and decorations....I love it ALL. But I hope, that we aren't burying the real Christmas under all the other 'stuff'.