We bundled up the six kids one Christmas and took them to see a much anticipated live nativity. It was bitterly cold, and we knew it would be.
When we arrived the lines were longer than we anticipated. Muuuuuch longer. Just to get to the hay ride to drive up to the nativity was an hour wait.
We finally hitched a hay ride and arrived at the nativity just as the sun was going down.
I could tell we would be in for a long night as I saw the line leading to the top of the hill where the barns were. Our kids waited patiently as we walked past the camels, the Roman soldiers, and the cows that were feeding on grass in a pen.
Then the whining started.
“Daddy, I’m cold.” “Will you hold me?” “My legs hurt.” And more. And every few seconds.
My wife and I seriously considered leaving before we got to walk through the “Bethlehem barn”, or even to see the manger scene.
Was the frigid temperatures and incessant complaining going to be worth it?
We decided to tough it out in line and once we got into the barn we didn’t spend any time observing, we just shot past everyone. The animals, the games, and the decorations – we skipped it all. We were just too cold.
Upon exiting the barn we were not very happy to see another looong line.
More complaining. More whining. Even colder temperatures now.
After another fifteen minutes of waiting, we finally arrived at the last barn wherein they depicted the manger scene. We paused there for a few moments to see Mary and Joseph sitting beside each other, with baby Jesus in his Mary’s arms.
The baby was miraculously asleep which created a most sacred and peaceful setting. Not wanting to stay too long in anticipation of more lines ahead and dropping temperatures, we hurriedly corralled our children and told them we were going to get some hot chocolate outside.
Our three-year-old Asia who was the coldest of them all, who had been complaining the most all night, and had been in the biggest hurry up to that point, didn’t want to go.
In her cute 2-year-old English she said, “I wa see mo baby Geezus” (I want to see more baby Jesus).
For the first time in an hour, she was not complaining. She was not cold. Her legs didn’t hurt. She did not want to be held. She wanted to behold.
There was a very tangible spirit in that dimly lit barn that even a three-year-old could recognize. The Spirit of Christmas was communicating with her spirit. The Spirit of Christmas is Christ – and Asia was soaking it all in.
Often parents worry too much about teaching their kids ‘all they need to know’. The Christmas songs, that Christmas stories, the Christmas movies, the meaning of Christmas. Perhaps our true focus shouldn’t be teaching our children, but learning from them.
I learned a priceless lesson from my daughter Asia that Christmas. I don’t need to worry about teaching her the true meaning of it all, she can feel it. There are other forces from on high, much more qualified than me, who are touching her heart and revealing to her things which require more of her attention.
The camels, the soldiers, the farm animals, and lights – none of those grabbed her attention more than a babe in the manger did. Don’t worry so much about teaching your children about Christmas and what is really important, stand back and let them teach you.