What is Christmas through the eyes of a child? It’s a wonderful thing!
As Christmas approached this year, my four-year-old son asked me when we would put up our tree. He was becoming a bit excited and anxious. When I assembled the tree, he helped by passing branches to me. My wife, Maria, later decorated it and, when we turned on the tree lights, Matthew jumped up and down, waving his hands gleefully. For the next few days, he often ran up to the tree, pointed to the various decorations, and asked, "What’s that Daddy?" He often tried to get behind the tree, just to see if it looked different from the other side, I suppose.
We also took Matthew to a Knights of Columbus Christmas breakfast where he sat on Santa’s knee. We’ve told him the traditional story about Santa: He lives in the North Pole, knows if children are good or bad, and will reward good children with presents. This year, Maria bought a toy elf that we named Alfonso. We told Matthew that Alfonso watches him and, each night, reports his doings back to Santa. Matthew is a little afraid of Alfonso and apologizes to him, if he does something bad. Of course, as he grows older, he’ll learn that Santa "doesn’t really exist." However, we hope that Matthew will continue to believe in the Christian ideals that Santa represents.
We have a beautiful manger scene at our church. Before each Mass, during the Christmas season, I take Matthew to look at it. He knows all the characters and happily names them. We’ve told him that Mary and the baby Jesus love him and that they live in heaven, pray for him and protect him. He believes all of it.
What is Christmas through the eyes of a child? It’s a wonderful thing! Very young children believe in Christmas. They believe in the goodness of others because they "do not know the evil that destroys man’s life." They are innocent, naive and joyful, and they symbolize all that’s best about Christmas.
For many people, Christmas can be difficult. It can be stressful, frustrating and tiring. For some, it can be lonely and depressing. For me, Christmas has largely become a routine chore: Shop. Write Christmas cards. Put up the tree. Tolerate certain relatives. However, I do enjoy many aspects of the season: manger scenes, Christmas carols, festive decorations, eggnog, and a lot more.
Do you want to see Christmas through the eyes of a child? "Become like little children" (Mt. 18-3) and you will one day experience the ever-lasting Christmas. It’s a wonderful thing!