With all the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season, it's very easy to forget why we celebrate this special holiday. In an effort to counter this reality, evangelist Billy Graham has revealed the two things parents should never do if they hope to teach their children the true reason for the season.
In a response to a reader submitted question to the Kansas City Star, the evangelist helps believers remember the importance of keeping "Christ" in Christmas.
"Our children are already excited about Christmas, but several months ago my husband lost his job, and it's going to be a very slim Christmas this year," the reader, known as "C.R.", wrote. "How do we explain this to them? They'll not only be disappointed, but they'll be embarrassed when they see what their friends got. What should we do?"
While acknowledging that such circumstances are certainly worrying, the 97-year-old evangelist encouraged the reader to understand that this holiday could actually be the best Christmas ever.
"And this will happen as you and your family focus on the true meaning of Christmas: the coming of Jesus Christ into the world," he writes.
Graham then highlights two specific things parents shouldn't do: "First, I hope you won't go out and spend money you don't really have on a multitude of gifts for your children. In other words, avoid going into debt because you're afraid of disappointing them. Set a realistic budget and stick to it."
Second, the evangelist urges parents to not conceal their situation from their children: "You don't say in your letter how old they are, but even a simple explanation will help young children understand why this Christmas will be different. At the same time, think of other ways to make this a memorable Christmas for them - making gifts for each other, baking cookies together to give to others, etc."
Graham goes on to share the single most important thing a parent can do to teach their children the meaning of Christmas: "The most important thing you can do, however, is to help them gain a new understanding of the meaning of Christmas. Yes, they naturally think about the gifts they hope to get. But help them focus instead on the greatest gift of all, the gift of God's own son for our salvation. May Christ become the center of your Christmas, now and always. 'Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!' (2 Corinthians 9:15)."
Graham, who turned 97 in November, is one of North Carolina's most famous sons and has made the annual "Most Admired" list a record 58 times. The evangelist grew up in Charlotte and currently resides in Montreat, North Carolina. In addition to advising numerous political leaders, Graham is known for his crusades that brought the gospel to 215 million people, according to the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.
Just before his birthday, he released his final book: "Where I Am: Heaven, Eternity, and Our Life Beyond."
"Heaven seems a mystery to many people," Graham writes. "They wonder if Heaven is above the lofty clouds, or if Heaven will come down to earth. When I am asked, 'Where is Heaven?' I simply answer: Heaven is where Jesus is."
The evangelist also testifies about his confidence in his salvation. "[Jesus] told His disciples, 'I go to prepare a place for you ... that where I am, there you may be also!' So when my earthly life has ended and you wonder where I've gone, this will be the answer: I will be with Jesus-that's where I am."