Every mom and dad knows that one of the best things about being a parent is giving to your children. Parents delight in sacrificing to meet their children’s needs and to bring them happiness.

That’s one of the reasons Christmas can be a stressful time of year for parents who are struggling financially. The best gifts you can give your children, however, are not tangible. Regardless of what wrapped presents you may or may not be able to give, here are five gifts every Christian parent can (and should!) give to their children throughout the Christmas season:

  1. Time—No matter how busy December gets, plan and guard family time. Also, make sure you make a special memory with each child. This doesn’t have to be expensive. It can be as simple as driving through town to look at the Christmas lights. Or getting to stay up late one night during Christmas break to drink hot chocolate and play a game with Dad.
  2. Traditions—Part of what makes Christmas such a fun time for children is the anticipation of repeated traditions—baking Christmas cookies, decorating the tree, using an advent calendar, setting up the nativity scene. If you don’t have any already in your home, begin some this year that your children can look forward to in future years.
  3. Service—Help your child serve someone else with you this month. Visit a widow in your church, go Christmas caroling as a family in a nursing home, bring Christmas cookies to your neighbors. Teach your child that Christmas is not about getting, but about Jesus and sharing the good news of His birth with others.
  4. Example—The very best gift you can give your children is a good example. They are always watching you. Let them see you worshiping the Lord, living a consistent Christian testimony, and growing in your Christian walk.
  5. Christ—Take every opportunity you can this month to point your children to Jesus. Attend the Christmas services at church together. Read the Christmas story to them. Talk about what the Christian Christmas songs mean. Seize moments of opportunity to explain the spiritual significance of various Christmas traditions. Remind them that the purpose Jesus came to earth was to save us from our sins. Help create a spiritual focus for the holiday in your children’s hearts.

Terrie and I have given our children and now grandchildren various gifts throughout the years. I suppose most of those gifts have been forgotten, but these five go straight to a child’s heart, bringing security and strengthening your relationship. They last far longer than the moment in which they are given.

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