Teenagers are at a “Christmas crossroads.”

No longer do they sit with toy advertisements from the Sunday paper and circle all the things they want in the hope that “Santa” will magically enter their house on Christmas Eve and give them these things.

The magic of Christmas should never disappear from anyone’s life, no matter what age.  However, teenagers should begin to realize that they have more responsibility for making the Christmas spirit come alive. They need to do for others what has, for most of their lives, been done for them.

Encourage your students to look for ways to give as well as receive. Whether they have an outside job or earn money doing chores around the neighborhood, teens should use their own money to thoughtfully choose gifts for their own family members as well as friends. They can then learn the thrill of seeing someone open a present they have chosen (and wrapped!).

Teens should give to people outside of their immediate family as well. If they have grandparents who live nearby, they should pay them an extra visit beyond the one on Christmas Day. If their grandparents live farther away, they should write them a handwritten letter. Or, they could record a video message on the appropriate system available to their grandparents and sent it along.

The poor and needy of the local community should be gifted. Tell teens to use some of their earned money to buy a toy they always wanted as a kid but either never received or really enjoyed if they did get one. After it is wrapped carefully, they can donate it as part of many parish or community giving projects to benefit those in need.

Christmas is about giving. At the first Christmas, God the Son, the Second Person of the Trinity, gave his life to the world by becoming a human being. Eventually Jesus would be rejected and put to death, giving his life for our salvation.

The best Christmas gift of all.

Last Minute Christmas Project

Offer a three-hour free baby-sitting service for parents who need to do last minute Christmas shopping this Saturday. Teens baby-sit children at the school or parish while the parents are shopping. St. Stephen Parish in Tinley, IL offered such a service this past Saturday.

Have the students arrange several stations where they can interact and supervise the children, for example, two or three craft areas where teens lead the construction of things like Christmas wreaths, coloring projects, or cutting out snowflakes.

At another station, keep several short (30-minute) Christmas DVDs on hand. It’s preferable not to show full-length movies in order to continually attract the attention of more and more kids.

Finally, many teens can spend one-on-one time with children playing board games and interacting in many other forms of play. Here’s one of many websites that offer other babysitting ideas.

Make sure to provide permission slips as needed.

If the parents wish to offer a donation, have the teens vote on a charity to give it to.