by Carolynn J. Scully

Holidays are all about stories.

December fills us with tales from history as well as imagination. We celebrate these traditions because we see in them the qualities we reach for in our lives.

As grandparents, we can recount stories of our own past holidays, hoping to inspire the young people in our lives to see our celebrations as more than just laughter, fun and gifts. We tell about the connections that holiday stories have made in us and hope they inspire the next generation.

Christmas encompasses many stories, but all begin with the birth of Jesus. Within the biblical narrative there is more than one story:

  • Shepherds and wise men have their tales to tell of responding to good news.
  • Mary and Joseph have their stories of obedience to God’s call.
  • A few days later Simeon and Anna, two grandparent-like figures, add their unique perspectives to the story that is being played out.

Each of these events emphasize values and character qualities we desire to emulate, and we see life lessons such as obedience, listening to God’s voice, giving generously, seeking what God is doing in the world, and living out the kind of love that makes a difference.

And while the Biblical narrative may be the most important and meaningful to many of us as we communicate with our grandkids, we need not stop there. Sometimes our imaginations can draw pictures that are better received by children:

  • Stories of Santa’s joy in giving to others can reflect goodness, grace and generosity.
  • Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer was rejected for his different look, but was found to be special, not someone to be discarded. Both Rudolph and the other reindeer learned good life lessons. Rudolph learned to use his differences for the good of others. The other reindeer learned that those different from us could be just who we need on our team.
  • Frosty made the most of his time, living his life fully and cheerfully.
  • Even the Grinch is a reminder that everyone can be changed by love.

The world is rich and diverse in stories that are worth respecting, celebrating, and talking about with our grandkids, even when they aren’t part of our heritage or experiences:

  • Hanukkah, the festival of lights, is a message for all in our dark world. We can be a light for others through our giving of simple gifts: smiles, hugs, and other happy greetings.
  • Kwanzaa is an African term meaning “first fruit.” It is a celebration of life focusing on seven principles that should be a part of all people groups: unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, and faith.

We are enriched when we share not only our stories, but also tales of those who have lived lives worth celebrating.

Every holiday brings a season of telling and retelling stories that teach, encourage and celebrate. It is a happy and inexpensive way to experience the joys of grandparenting.

Carolynn J. Scully is an award-winning poet and writes other works while caring for grandchildren, Abigail and Lincoln, after school. She has worked in women’s ministries for many years and enjoys speaking to women’s groups. She has been married to her husband, Patrick, for 47 years and lives in Forest City, Florida. Her book, Something Good Inside of Me: A Children’s Poetry Keepsake Journal, was written for her seven grandchildren and is available here.