Do carols mean just music and jingles? Well, this Christmas let your child imbibe valuable life lessons from some good old carols.
By Dr Priscilla J S Selvaraj
“Christmas is a season not only of rejoicing but of reflection,” said Winston Churchill. So, while we sing the carols joyously, let us also ponder on the values these beautiful songs impart to us and pass them on to our children.
1. The song: Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer
Life lesson: Respect diversity.
The song is about a reindeer with a shiny, red nose and how all the other reindeer would laugh at him and call him names. And, they would refuse to allow Rudolph to play their reindeer games. But, one foggy Christmas eve, Santa came along and said, "Rudolph with your nose so bright, won't you guide my sleigh tonight?" Then, all the reindeer loved him and shouted with glee saying Rudolph would go down in history, and they were right!
The message: Well, this is for all those children out there who tease and bully others, especially because they are different. Let them not laugh at or ridicule others. Teach them to be inclusive in their outlook; let them not harbour biases or prejudices against anyone. Encourage them to love and embrace all, just as Santa did.
2. The song: Good King Wenceslas
Life lesson: Share ungrudgingly.
This carol narrates the story of how a king and his page trek through the snow and brave the harsh winter weather, on the day after Christmas, to give a poor peasant food and pine logs. Even when the page feels extremely cold and weak, and expresses his inability to go further, the good king asks him to walk in his footprints so that he would feel the warmth left behind in the marks.
The message: Make sure your child is willing to share what she has with others. Teach her not be selfish and cling on to her possessions. Let her draw inspiration from the good king who set off out in the cold to help a poor peasant. And, make her understand that charity may, at times, require her to reach out to others despite adverse circumstances. The good king did just that!
3. The song: The Little Drummer Boy
Life lesson: Put your talents to the best use.
A touching song about a little boy who went to visit baby Jesus and did not have any gift fit enough for the King (for, the sweet little infant was the King of all Kings!). However, the boy offered to play his drum for the baby. And, he did. In fact, he says, “I played my best for Him, pa rum pum pum pum…”
The message: If your child is shy and diffident, if he feels he doesn’t have any potential or talent, if he doesn’t realise his true worth, don’t worry. Have a pep chat with him about his interests, strengths and likes. It will help unravel his innate talents. Once you do that, groom his skills and motivate him to give it his all – his very best. After all, the little drummer boy has already set the tone for this attitude!
4. The song: The First Noel
Life lesson: Consider the poor and the downtrodden.
The first proclamation of the glad tidings that Jesus, the promised Messiah, was born in Bethlehem was made by angels to a flock of poor shepherds in the field. They were led to the stable where baby Jesus lay and worshipped Him. The first Noel by the angels was announced to these simple folk even before the wise men from the East, who had followed the bright star to Bethlehem, worshipped Jesus and offered him their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.
The message: Before God all are equal. Your social station in life, the profession you are in, your money power – all these do not matter to Him. Teach your child too to respect all individuals and treat everyone equally, no matter what their background may be. What better example for this than the angelic choir?
5. The song: O Christmas Tree
Life lesson: Be cheerful always.
This beautiful carol describes the Christmas tree as being fresh and green not only in summer but also in winter. The joy and pleasure it brings the onlookers is also brought out in the song.
The message: Success or failure, rain or shine – teach your child to be happy always. The joy in her heart will pass on to others and lift up their spirits too. Make her understand that life is not always a bed of roses. At times there will be highs and at other times she may have to go through some lows. Through it all, let her have a positive attitude and cheer up.
6. The song: Away in a Manger
Life lesson: Be humble.
When Joseph took Mary to Bethlehem just before Jesus was born, there was no room for them. All they had was a stable in an inn. Yes, that’s where the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords was born to shed his blood and free mankind from sin. Baby Jesus had no crib, just a bundle of hay. This sweet song goes thus – ‘The cattle are lowing, the baby awakes, the little Lord Jesus, no crying He makes.’
The message: What humility for the Lord of all creation to be born in a stable! What contentment for the Saviour to lay down his sweet head in a manger! Let your child learn to be humble. Pride will get him nowhere. Also, teach him not to whine and complain when, at times, he may lack basic comforts.
7. The song: Let there be Peace on Earth
Life lesson: Be at peace with everyone.
The song focuses on the theme of peace and how we should live in perfect harmony with our fellow-beings. The line – ‘let peace begin with me’ – underlines the responsibility that each of us has in maintaining peace.
The message: Teach your child that it is important to have peaceful relations with all and not indulge in petty fights, quarrels or squabbles. Make her understand that she cannot harbour enmity or hatred against anyone; but, she has to learn to love everyone.
In Charles Dickens’ classic, ‘The Christmas Carol’, the ill-tempered miser Scrooge after undergoing a change of heart towards the end declared, “I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach!”
Just as Scrooge stated, let our children too strive to uphold the spirit of Christmas always and practise these life lessons. Merry Christmas and joy to the world!
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Dr Priscilla J S Selvaraj