What I Want My Children to Learn About Christmas


Christmas is my favorite time of the year! I enjoy every aspect of it, from the holiday pajamas to the food, the music, the gatherings, absolutely everything! Spiritually speaking, I celebrate the season with a joyful heart because our Savior was born. Culturally speaking, it’s when my Venezuelan heart connects me with my roots and brings back cherished childhood memories.

With two little ones, things are getting even more fun. Our 3-year old son has now a better understanding of the season. I can’t begin to tell you how delightful it is to enjoy this time through his innocent, tender eyes. With him, we are rediscovering the beauty of the simple and are learning to appreciate what matters most. Because he is still in that stage of his life when gifts and material things don’t really matter, the moments we spend together are the ones that draw the biggest smile in his face.

So the time has come to start seeding in his heart the truths and principles that will make this season even more meaningful for him in years to come! These are the things I want my children to learn about Christmas.

The reason for the season

The colorful lights, our imperfect, incomplete Christmas tree (because my children are very young and feel compelled to mess with the tree ornaments all the time!), the food, the music, our family traditions, the gifts, the gatherings–everything we do is to celebrate that our Savior, Jesus Christ, was born to give us hope and eternal life (Isaiah 9:6). The most important truth behind this season is that miracle that took place in Bethlehem, and this is what my husband and I are seeding in our children’s hearts.

What I Want My Children to Learn About Christmas Valerie Barbosa Contributor Miami Moms Blog
My husband took this picture two years ago, when our son was the same age our daughter is today and we can’t wait to replicate it with the two of them playing with their nativity set, asking us to share with them the story of Jesus’ birth over and over again.

To enjoy each other throughout the season

In the busyness of the festivities it is easy to get caught in the stress of the errands and preparations, especially if, like me, you are a working mom with short spaces in your day (or late night) to do all the shopping and planning. It is easy to forget the importance of enjoying this time together as a family. I want our children to enjoy not only the celebrations but also the time leading up to each special moment during the holidays. Whether it’s buying the food for Christmas Eve dinner, prepping the house to host, buying gifts for family and friends, or getting ready to rush out, I want our family to enjoy the anticipation of the holidays and always keep in mind that we already have the most important gift we could have ever wished for: each other.

What I Want My Children to Learn About Christmas Valerie Barbosa Contributor Miami Moms Blog
A typical Christmas in Miami

How do we teach them this? Doing our best to lead by example. Our actions are louder than our words, so our kids need to see us enjoying each moment and appreciating that we are together, as a family.

To enjoy and love our own multicultural traditions

Christmas traditions are beautiful! I enjoyed growing up in a home where faith, music, and food played a huge role in creating unforgettable memories. Just the smell of the Venezuelan pan de jamón and baked sugar cookies in the oven, a simple Disney holiday tune or a gaita venezolana, or even hanging our own stocking on the wall, have the ability to take me back to wonderful childhood moments many Decembers ago!

I want my children to experience the same kind of joy! I want them to look forward to us doing many fun things together. So my husband and I are taking what we loved from our childhood traditions (that are culturally relevant because we grew up in Brazil and Venezuela respectively) and mixing it with American elements that we love, to create our own multicultural traditions for our family.

I want to fill my home with the smell of the turkey, hallacas venezolanas and pao de queijo brasileiro. I want them to look forward to special moments such as putting up the tree and setting up the nativity while we talk about God’s love for us and worship him together! I want us to sing our favorite holiday villancicos in Spanish, English and Portuguese. I want to read our bilingual books that bring to life my favorite Christmas songs and my son’s favorite animals, such as Mi Burrito. I want my children to grow up loved and feeling proud of their Hispanic and Brazilian heritage. I want to create unforgettable memories, and traditions are one of the best ways to do so!

What I Want My Children to Learn About Christmas Valerie Barbosa Contributor Miami Moms Blog
This is the Venezuelan plato navideño. It comes with chicken salad (ensalada de gallina), pan de jamón, hallaca and pernil (my family replaces the pernil/pork with American style turkey). Photo by Bocas Grill restaurant.

The importance of helping others

Although this is something that I want to cultivate in them throughout the year, I believe Christmas is a beautiful time to go back to this basic principle. I don’t want my children to grow up focusing on getting gifts and on the material side of things. I want my children to understand that they are tremendously blessed in every sense. That there are many children and families in financial, emotional, or spiritual need, and we can do a few things to bring God’s Word to life and be that good neighbor He expects us to be.

So, first we are teaching them how to pray for others, especially families going through difficult times in this season. This is the easiest, most powerful way to help anyone! Secondly, we are teaching them to share. Our daughter is still too little, but our 3-year old is learning how to share his toys with his baby sister, so this is a concept he is starting to understand. We want to start teaching him to choose those toys he doesn’t even remember he has and set them aside so that we may give them to children in need.

What I Want My Children to Learn About Christmas Valerie Barbosa Contributor Miami Moms Blog

The point is that I want my children to learn that with a little or a lot, what matters is what we have in our hearts: the understanding of why we celebrate Christmas and a grateful heart, acknowledging everything we have. Having God in our lives and having each other is what it means to have it all.