Teach the Children

Does anyone feel like the true meaning of Christmas is a little bit lost?

Okay.  Alot lost?

Christmas has become more of a retailer’s phenomenon than a religious holiday destined to remind us of why we’re here on this earth.  While we make ourselves crazy shopping, we forget why Jesus was born, what He would grow up to do.  We don’t think of salvation, compassion, or good will toward men.

If we’re not careful, the true meaning will be forever lost in the commercialism.  That’s why we have to start with the youngest of our humanity.  The future generations. 

Our children.

Years ago, my sister-in-law gave each of us a red bag filled with trinkets.   They came with a story, too, which never fails to choke me up.

I’d like to share that story with you today. 


Just a week before Christmas, I had a visitor. This is how it happened. I had just finished the household chores for the night and was preparing to go to bed when I heard a noise in the front of the house. I opened the door of the front room, and to my surprise, Santa Claus himself stepped out from behind the Christmas tree. He placed his fingers over his mouth so I would not cry out.

“What are you doing?” I started to ask, but the words lodged in my throat as I saw he had tears in his eyes. His usual jolly manner was gone…gone was the eager, boisterous soul we all know.

He then answered with a simple statement of “teach the children”. I was puzzled. What did he mean? He anticipated my question and with one quick movement brought forth a miniature toy bag from behind the tree. As I stood there bewildered, Santa said again, “Teach the children. Teach them the meaning of Christmas…the meanings that Christmas nowadays has forgotten.”

I started to say, “How can I…” when Santa reached into the toy bag and pulled out a shining star.

“Teach the children the star was the heavenly sign of promise long ages ago. God promised a Savior for the world and the star was a sign of the fulfillment of that promise. The countless shining stars at night, one for each man, now show the burning hope of all mankind.” Santa gently laid the star upon the fireplace mantle and drew forth from the bag a red Christmas tree ornament.

“Teach the children red is the first color of Christmas. It was first used by the faithful people to remind them of the blood which was shed for all the people by the Savior. Christ gave His life and shed His blood that every man might have God’s gift of Eternal Life. Red is deep, intense, vivid…it is the greatest color of all. It is the symbol of the gift of God.”

“Teach the children,” he said as he dislodged a small Christmas tree from the depths of the toy bag. He placed it before the mantle and gently hung the red ornament on it. The deep green of the fir tree was a perfect background for the ornament. Here was the second color of Christmas.

“The pure green color of the stately fir tree remains green all year round,” he said. “This depicts the everlasting hope of mankind. Green is the youthful, hopeful, abundant color of nature. All needles point Heavenward, symbols of man’s returning thoughts toward Heaven. The great green tree has been man’s best friend. It has sheltered him, warmed him, made beauty for him.”

Suddenly I heard a soft tinkling sound.

“Teach the children that as the lost sheep are found by the sound of the bell, it should ring for a man to return to the fold. It means guidance and return. It further signifies that all are precious in the eyes of the Lord.” As the soft sound of the bell faded into the night, Santa drew forth a candle. He placed it on the mantle and the soft glow from its tiny flame cast a glow about the darkened room. Odd shapes in shadows slowly danced and weaved upon the walls.

“Teach the children,” whispered Santa, “that the candle shows man’s thanks for the star of long ago. Its small light is the mirror of starlight. At first candles were placed on the trees. They were like many glowing stars shining against the dark green. The colored lights now take over in remembrance.”

Santa turned the small Christmas tree lights on and picked up a gift from underneath the tree. He pointed to the large bow and said, “A bow is placed on a present to remind us of the brotherhood of man. We should remember that the bow is tied as men should be tied, all of us together, with the bonds of goodwill toward each other. Goodwill forever is the message of the bow.”

Santa slung his bag over his shoulder and began to reach for the candy cane placed high upon the tree. He unfastened it and reached out toward me with it.

“Teach the children that the candy cane represents the shepherd’s crook. The crook on the staff helps bring back the strayed sheep to the flock. The candy cane represents the helping hand we should show at Christmas time. The candy candy cane is the symbol that we are our brothers’ keepers.

As Santa looked about the room, a feeling of satisfaction shone in his face. He read wonderment in my eyes, and I am sure he sensed my admiration on this night.

He reached into his bag and brought forth a holly wreath. He placed it on the door and said, “Please teach the children the wreath symbolizes the eternal nature of love; it never ceases, stops, or ends. It is one continuous round of affection. The wreath does double duty. It is made of many things and in many colors. It should remind us of all the things of Christmas.

Please teach the children.”


Do you try to keep the true meaning of Christmas alive at your house?  How?  What customs do you do–or used to do–that would help you and your children remember what the Season is truly about?

By the way–Santa’s story and his red bag of trinkets makes a wonderful treasured family heirloom.  Feel free to make this story your gift to someone you love!

The Fillies will be taking a well-deserved break for a couple of weeks.  I’ll be back the first Wednesday in January.  Until then . . .

May you have the most joyful of Christmases filled with the light from God’s love!

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Pam has written 30 romances, most of them historical westerns, but her newest releases are contemporary sweet romances featuring the Blackstone Ranch series published by Tule Publishing. Stay up on the latest at www.pamcrooks.com

37 thoughts on “Teach the Children”

  1. Hi Pam,

    What a wonderful topic today.

    Our family comes together for the holidays though we’re scattered around the country and it makes it nearly impossible to get everyone under one roof at the same time. It’s more and more difficult for all families to come together for Christmas because of work schedules and other obligations.

    Growing up, I remember restaurants and retail stores completely closing down for Christmas Eve and Christmas in our small town. The local industries worked on holiday hours or closed down for Christmas day. Now, we don’t have the same luxury and often it interferes with matters of family, those treasured times we don’t see enough in this day and time.

    Merry Christmas, Pam.

    Natalie Acres

  2. Oh, I love that Pam! A wonderful message.

    My daughter had a book about Jesus’ birth that’s sort of a hidden pictures type book that I’ve been reading to her since she was a baby. I also try to make sure I read the passage about His birth from the Bible on Christmas Eve.

    A couple of weeks ago the kids were talking about Christmas and my stepson, (9 at the time- turned 10 on the 11th) was talking about presents and decorations and Santa and I overheard their exchange of ideas. I asked if they knew what the real meaning of Christmas was, just to see if they’ve been listening and my daughter, 5 at the time (she just turned 6 this past Saturday) said “Christmas is about love and Jesus.”

    I couldn’t have been prouder.

  3. Good morning, Natalie!

    You bring up a good point. It’s just not *right* when Walmarts and convenience stores and even video stores are open on Christmas, is it? If people knew these stores would close to give employees time with their families, then they’d simply be more organized and get their shopping done ahead of time.

    Catering to customers and their last minute needs is one aspect of commercialism that can be avoided, imo.

    And I do think there’s a big difference between small towns and big cities. Small towns are far more family oriented in many ways, don’t you think?

    Merry Christmas, dear!

  4. Taryn, give that little girl of yours a big hug for me! LOL. She gave the perfect answer. What a sweetheart!

    Reading to her from the Bible on Christmas Eve is a lovely tradition. I hope she’ll do the same with her own children some day.

    We like to read Santa’s “Teach the children” story right before we open gifts. I hope it helps keep the true meaning of Christmas in perspective.

    Have a blessed holiday, my friend!

  5. Pam,
    A wonderful story and blog. We have tried hard to maintain the real meaning of Christmas amidst the hustle and bustle. When my kids were at home Christmas Eve was Jesus’ birthday party. The kids dressed up in costume and acted out the Christmas story and then we had birthday cake. It was a special time.


  6. In my distant past I wrote a lot of children’s Sunday School Christmas plays. I even got about five of them published.
    This would have made a great play.

    I always dug deep for the true meaning of Christmas, and tried to tell about it in a fun and engaging way. This makes me realize I probably haven’t spent enough time recently focused on that. 🙁

    Thanks for the reminder, Pam.

  7. Linda, I loooooove this! What better way to really show the children about Jesus’ birth than to have them ‘live’ the part.

    And birthday cake, too. Perfect!

    Thank you–and Merry Christmas! (See you soon!)

  8. Well, Mary, won’t be long and those grandbabies will be a-comin’. You can make yourself a red bag of Christmas reminders and start a family tradition!

    Great to see you this weekend, and Merry Christmas!

  9. Pam,
    Thank for sharing that story. I’d never heard it before. My family reads the Christmas story from the Bible and the kids add the figurines in the empty manger as the story progresses. Of course with four cats Joseph and the wisemen have had their heads glued back on so many times they look like they’re wearing collars. Merry Christmas

  10. Pam, this was such a beautiful post! I will make sure I pass it on.

    We always have several advent calendars going and when the kids were at home, we lit candles on an advent wreathe. This year our 2-year old grandson will be here on Christmas Eve and he will put the baby Jesus in the manger. (My mom brought us the olive-wood nativity scene from Bethelehem. It’s gorgeous!)

    Merry Christmas to all of you out there. May 2009 bring all of us every good thing in Jesus’ name.

  11. Kathy, I love the simplicity of this idea–having the children add the figures throughout the story. It really compels them to listen, doesn’t it?

    Is there a fight over who gets to add Baby Jesus to the manger? lol.

    Have a Merry Christmas, Kathy!

  12. What a great message! As a Sunday school 3rd grade Catechist, I just read this story to my children this past Sunday, explaining other things a bit more along the way and answering any questions they had. The Sunday before I’d read to them the Nativity story and explained Advent to them. This Sunday coming up they are doing a program where they will sing, “Happy Birthday, Jesus!” I feel that we have lost the true meaning of Christmas and many other things along the way but when children are small is the best time to instill the true meaning of Christmas in them.

    We always try to keep the true meaning of Christmas at our home. Since I am originally from Puerto Rico, what we really celebrated there was Christmas (not Santa Claus) and Three Kings Day. On Three Kings Day on January 6th (Epiphany) was when we really received our presents. We would leave grass and water for the camels instead of the cookies and milk left here for Santa Claus. We never miss Midnight Mass.

    Merry Christmas to all of you and a very blessed and prosperous New Year. I’m just a lurker but I had to post this time since your post had to do with so much of what I feel. I love this site!

  13. Tanya, we do the Advent wreath, too. This year, the candles are getting lit way too fast! I love the symbolism of the candles, and how the light is drawing nearer to Christmas.

    What a lovely keepsake your mother gave you in that nativity set. From Bethlehem–wow!

    Have a blessed Christmas, my friend!

  14. Pam – this is a beautiful sentiment. The stories are very touching. We used to take our children to “Bethlehem” each year. It was outside at night and always freezing cold, but well worth it. The church members dressed up as Romans, and Wise Men and actually depicted the town. They had booths that showed how they made bread, how they lived and the “characters” would talk to us or do little skits about their life. Very memorable.

  15. Maria, I truly enjoyed your post and admired your dedication to spreading the true meaning of Christmas. And you were right on when you said it must begin with the children. Let’s add that it must be instilled over and over again, to emphasize its importance as well make it an integral part of their lives when they’re grown-up!

    How interesting to read of your Puerto Rican customs! Thank you for sharing–and have a blessed Christmas!

  16. Charlene, your Bethlehem sounds amazing! Clearly, an incredible amount of work was put into keeping the spirit of the Season alive. I can see how it would be memorable for your family. I’d love to see it, too!

    Have a Merry Christmas, my dear sister Filly. (And I enjoyed seeing your trees on Cheryl’s blog. All three of them!)

  17. Pam,

    What an excellent blog! It really touched me and made me stop and think. I get so caught up in the frezied pace of the holidays I forget the true meaning. Thanks for reminding me.

  18. Hi Pam,

    Thanks for such a heartwarming story. As a Christian in a huge metropolitan area, it’s nice to see someone stand up for the real Christmas. I don’t believe in ‘Happy Holidays’ but I do believe in Christ and Merry Christmas.

    As our kids are teens now, we started a new tradition last year and donate money to several organizations (Doctors without Borders, Unicef, USO, International Orthodox Christian Charities) in their name and as gifts to their grandparents. They are beginning to understand that to celebrate Christ’s birth means giving “the gifts” to others who need them more than we do.

    Thanks for a wonderful post.

    Merry Christmas!!

  19. What a woderful post, Pam 🙂

    When my boys were 2 and 3 we started having birthday cake for Jesus at our house on Christmas Eve, complete with candles and a singing of Happy Birthday to Jesus. I do believe that started with my youngest wanting to know whey Jesus didn’t get a cake when everyone else did. We also have the tradition of reading Christmas verses from the bible at my inlaws on Christmas eve before we eat and my boys were always excited when it was their year to read. Now that my kids are teens, I do miss all the little kiddie Christmas Story books, though I still set them out for decoration…well, when I’m home. As of yet, all my Christmas decorations are still packed…somewhere, as we are in transit of moving home over the next week…maybe–I hope *ggg*

  20. Thank you Pam! You’re not kidding we need to keep instilling and instilling the true meaning of Christmas all the time. It’s not surprising to have to instill it in kids when so many adults seem to forget. It’s so sad that all that was always considered wrong is now right and right is now wrong but as a Christian nothing can take our joy away and that is what we need to show the world. Our JOY, Jesus, Others, You!!

    God bless each and every one of you!

  21. Well, Linda Lou, you’re not the only one who gets caught up in the hustle and bustle. It’s a national pastime. 🙂 So glad my Santa story gave you a minute to pause and reflect.

    Elizabeth, I’m so glad you want to share Santa’s story. I’ll bet your grandchildren will love it, too.

    Merry Christmas, dear Fillies!

  22. Za, I can relate to everything you said. Let’s keep Christ in Christmas, eh? I don’t even like to type Xmas! I always try to take the time to spell it out with His name in it.

    You are to be commended for teaching your teens to give to charitable organizations. They’re at a tough age where they know the benefits of cash. It’s hard to give it away.

    Have a happy and blessed Christmas, friend!

  23. Stacey, I’m hearing more and more about the fun and meaning of having a birthday cake on Christmas Eve. I’ll start that tradition with my grandbabies!

    And, oh, I hope you can make it HOME for Christmas. I’d be so stressed if I had to be away from all those momentoes that make it so special for a family.

    Hang in there, dear, and Merry Christmas!

  24. I LOVE this story – makes me cry every time!

    My children are all grown and gone with lives and families of their own but my granddaughter is in a Christian daycare and they’re teaching them the classic Christmas songs about Jesus and His birthday. In fact, just this past weekend she was singing “Happy Birthday Jesus” and “Away in a Manger” in her sweet little voice – which made hubby and I both smile and wipe a tear 🙂

    God always reminds me what Christmas is about when He blesses me with something special this time of year – like this year, a bonus at work. Not only did I not know they gave bonuses, being fairly new (just made my 90 days in Nov) I didn’t expect one – then to receive the amount I did, well WHAT a surprise/blessing! I still get goosebumps when I think about it and thank Him.

    But one year this was not the case and I was so depressed I didn’t even want to put up a tree because there would be NOTHING to put under it.

    Then God reminded me that Christmas wasn’t about what I could buy to go under the tree, but about the birth of my Lord and Savior.

    I put the tree up and placed all of my tabletop decorations underneath because it’s not what we can buy that makes Christmas, Christmas, it’s about what He did (and does). 🙂


    And a BLESSED and Prosperous New Year.


  25. Pam T, I was so touched by your comments. We’ve all had sad and troubling years, and I think we *have* to have them in our lives so we can appreciate the blessed and happy years.

    Congrats on that bonus. Yee-haw! But what’s most important is that you took time to give thanks. That’s wonderful!

    And a merry Christmas to you, too!

  26. That was extremely touching – thank you. I always read the story of The Littlest Angel. It’s another very touching story and every year I end up sobbing while trying to read it!

  27. Thank you, Pam, for reminding me of this lovely story! We will be gathering this coming weekend for
    dinner with my siblings and their families. This
    would be an excellent reading to share with them.
    And I love the idea of a birthday cake for Baby Jesus! I know all the grandchildren will enjoy this
    and a new tradition will be carried on into their
    futures! Merry Christmas!

    Pat Cochran

  28. Jeanne–oh, yes! The Littlest Angel. I looooove that one, too. It’s just precious, isn’t it?

    Merry Christmas–and thank you for being another good friend here in Wildflower Junction.

  29. Oh, Pat! I’m glad you like the birthday cake idea and will be incorporating into your family! It’s a lovely touch, for sure.

    And Merry Christmas back at you. 🙂 We appreciate you being one of our most loyal followers here at P & P.

  30. Pam, thank you so much for this! I was just thinking about it this morning as I realized how “generic” our Christmas cards were this year. We do have an Advent calendar we read each year that retells the Christmas story, and I think I’ll be looking for some other ways to remember as a family what Christmas truly is to us. Have a warm and wonderful celebration!

  31. Every year I read a book or share a story with my famly as we gather for Christmas. I think this year this will be my story. Thank you

  32. Pam, thanks so much for sharing this! Its something I’ll always remember. We put the real meaning in with more emphasis when things started changing more here (my mom’s passing around Christmas time, and my diagnosis and surgeries during Christmas) Now these holidays we reflecting more on the meaning of Christmas, and how much prayer as a family meant so much more. Merry Christmas to you Pam and your family!

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