“Mummy, it’s almost Christmas,! What are we getting as presents?,” asked my small sons last week*.
“I'm sorry my loves, but you won’t be getting presents,” I replied. Their little faces fell with disappointment, as I expected.
But then I told them this story that crosses the boundaries of all festivals - irrespective of which faith observes them. I hoped that they would understand that there is more to celebrating than just presents.
My darlings, let me tell you a story:
A long time ago, they say a baby was born in a cold stable, surrounded by curious farm animals. A sparkling star shone in the sky that night, because they say this wee baby was very special.
He got precious gifts from three wise men who travelled a long distance to see him and his mummy.
I’m not going to tell you about how this baby grew up, or what he did as an adult except that a lot of people loved him (and still do) and others didn’t like him so much.
The most important part of this story, I feel, is the celebration of birth, life and you. Let me explain.
You, my little boys, and every single little child in the world – you are representations of that baby boy who was born a long time ago on Christmas day.
Does this mean you stand for the gold and gifts that were given to the little baby that night? Does this mean that you are defined by the money, expensive presents and fancy advertisements that Christmas seems to be all about these days?
The real meaning of Christmas behind those presents given to the sweet baby born in a stable is too complicated for you to fathom right now. But you do understand that giving a gift to someone else is a generous deed.
The real meaning of Christmas
Generosity – that’s what you stand for.
They say that little baby from a long time ago grew up to be a person who treated everyone as equals. He was nice to everyone he met, even those who didn’t like him that much.
Kindness and patience – that’s what you stand for.
They say that little baby boy’s mummy was all alone when she gave birth to her baby. She would have been cold and scared.
But do you know why she didn’t give up? Because she’s a mum, just like all the other mothers in the world.
She would do anything for her child, just like I would do anything for you. I stand for you.
That mummy and all the mums around the world, they stand for love. And because you are born from this magic, you ARE love – the purest and most valuable form that can be found in the world. No gift in the world is more precious that this.
Why I am not getting you presents for Christmas
So little ones, this is why even though we enjoy the spirit of this lovely season, we love looking and marveling at the beautiful decorations lighting up our home and city, I’m not getting you presents for Christmas (neither is Santa).
I want you to learn the real meaning behind celebrations of all faiths. When Hari Raya Puasa, Deepavali, Vesak and Chinese New Year come around, I’ll be telling you the stories behind these festivals too and not just the real meaning of Christmas.
I'm not getting you presents for Christmas, because you already have so much more than anything money could ever buy.
All the qualities you were born with and that shine through in your innocent smiles and sparkling eyes are worth more than all the gold in the world.
You, and all the other children in the world – you are the lucky ones because you are born rich with hope, happiness, innocence, generosity and LOVE.
Use these presents wisely, my loves, and don’t hesitate to gift them to others in your life. You will always be richer for it.