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Grandparents' special role at Christmastime
Thursday, December 22, 2016 - 00:00 Eleanor Deckert
Yes, grandparents have a special role at Christmastime. They have time. They have skills. They sense how precious each of their grandchildren are. They hold traditions to pass forward. They have distilled the essence of Christmas and are no longer distracted by the rush of shopping or tantalizing glitter. Grandparents have their own way of doing things and are less likely to feel the urge to keep up with the Joneses.
However, there is another part of the grandparent’s role which is becoming increasingly important. We might even use a stronger word, like crucial or urgent, or of primary significance.
In recent years, effort has been made to preserve cultures that otherwise might have been lost. In this, elders play a primary role. Children are given deliberate instruction to preserve language, songs, symbols, heroes, foods, rituals, and sacred messages.
At present, Christians need to be vigilant, too.
Children are curious. They know that 'God' has been taken out of many public school celebrations, art projects and songs. They are hungry to learn. Their hearts respond eagerly. Who will teach them?
The family needs to dedicate itself to preserve Christmas traditions that have withstood the centuries.
Small actions are so much better than nothing. While you spend time with your grandchildren, speak to them about what you believe. Read and talk about the pictures in a children's Bible. Show them religious Christmas cards. Maybe you have old photos that show their parents participating in Christmas concerts that included Mary, Joseph and Jesus. If possible, allow your grandchildren to touch your Nativity figures while telling the story of Jesus' birth, point out the characters and recall the sequence of events.
After you have told the story in your own words and heard their questions and given them the meaning of the story, you can go one step further. Hold the open Bible in your hands and read them the original story (Matthew and Luke Chapters 1 and 2). Let the children take turns reading aloud. Listen to sacred Christmas music and sing the words to the hymns. If you don't do it, they might not hear it at all.
Family dynamics are tricky things. No one wants to 'offend', yet the role of grandparents as elders has always been, and still is, to instruct and place weight on the important details within a culture. Emphasis on the meaning of Christmas is up to you, grandparents. Be brave, gentle, comforting, and sincere. It matters.
Elaborate is not my style. I always like to search for the bare minimum.
There is one word that tells the whole story: “He shall be called Immanuel, which means, God is with us.” (Matthew 1:23)
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