The other day, amidst the hustle and bustle of preparing for our holiday vacation, I looked up from my to do list and down at my toddler who had her arms extended towards me and was saying on repeat, “Hold you momma”.
I lifted my toddler in my arms and hoisted her atop my 32 week pregnant stomach. She had become intrigued by the pictures on our bookshelves and instead of telling her to “wait” like I usually do, I scooped her up and took time to do something she so desperately wanted to do–something I have made a point of doing as of late.
She pointed out the different family pictures, and then she pointed to the shelf that has a picture of Christ with his arms extended towards the viewer. Before I could prompt her she whispered, “Jesus.”
I responded, “Yes that’s Jesus.”
And then she sweetly said, “He love you.”
She repeated this phrase several times and each time she said it I had to stop and gain my composure as my mind flash backed to a moment I had in church with her the previous Sunday.
My family and I are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Each Sunday we begin our block of meetings with one hour dedicated to worshiping as a congregation. That first hour together is filled with scriptural based talks by members of the congregation, singing, prayer, and the sacrament.
The sacrament portion is where young men of the congregation prepare and bless the bread and water. The bread is a symbol of Christ’s body, broken for us. And the water is a symbol of the blood that He shed during the great Atonement.
This is a quieter time in our chapel. Parents work hard to help their children be reverent and recognize the peace and calm that fill our hearts as we remember our Savior and His sacrifice for us. The sacrament is about a 15 minute portion of this 1 hour worship meeting. The bread is broken and then blessed in a specific prayer, and then the bread is passed around. Then the water is blessed in its own specific prayer and passed around the congretation.
For the past few weeks, during the sacrament portion of our meeting, I have held her close and whispered in her ear that the bread and water reminds us about Jesus and that Jesus loves her.
Some weeks its just one big concentrated effort of keeping her from screaming, “I want bread!” over and over, but this past Sunday she seemed to really here my words. Her eyes locked with mine and she nuzzled my head as she waited for the bread.
It wasn’t until this moment of her telling me that “Jesus loves you” while staring at His picture in our home that I realized I have an impact as her mother. She DOES absorb what I tell her, even at such a young age. My efforts are not for naught. It IS important to keep trying and to be consistent with the things I teach her.
I realized I have the impact now, and that we can start to really teach her powerful lessons at a very young age.
I love this time of year, and I want it to be filled with holiday magic, gift giving, and Christmas music dance parties in the kitchen. But I also want it to be filled with important takeaways for my children–things that they can take with them after they leave our nest and create their own. Takeaways that will hopefully fill their hearts with joy and comfort all year long. Takeaways that will influence their character as they continue to learn and grow.
Here are my top takeaways I want to teach my children each year at Christmas (and all year really):
- Make time to serve others. I hope to create many opportunities to serve in small and simple ways so my children can see the joy that comes to others through acts of service. The best way to do this is to lead by my own example. Meaning, I need to MAKE TIME TO SERVE OTHERS, and not turn charitable thoughts away when I have them.
- The true meaning of Christmas is in the name. Since we are a religious people, I want my children to not think of Christmas and immediately spout off a list of the things they want. Instead, I hope to instill in them a reverence and awe during Christmas time, and to teach them daily that the reason behind Christmas is in the name: Christmas. Meaning I want to fill our home with the love of Christ, teach them who He is, and teach them how they can come to know Him in hopes that they may learn to feel of His love for them.
- Christmas is a time to love and be loved. Giving gifts is a beautiful expression of love. I want to teach my children that giving gifts is a thoughtful way to show love, but it is not the only way. Love is best spelled T-I-M-E. I hope to fill their hearts with my love by spending time with them, individually and as a family. Meaning I have to be willing to take time to be present with them as opposed to distracted by the things of the world.
I promise your children hear you, they feel of your efforts, they feel of your love. Your days may be filled with tantrums, messes, and doubts of your abilities but I can promise you your children hear you and love you.
And whether you are religious or not, please remember what my toddler so lovingly taught me that day when she said, “Jesus love you.” You can replace the name with whoever you’d like, but whatever name you choose remember that someone out there loves you. My sweet toddler taught me that I am loved, and she taught me that she knows she is loved. Those two things are the best gifts I can receive and give.
You are loved sweet mothers. You are loved far and wide, by friends and family members alike. Please never doubt this: you are loved, you are loved, you are loved.
What are your Christmas or holiday takeaways you want your children to remember? Comment below! I’d love to hear and add to my list!