We held a Nativity Lent workshop for children in our parish and I was sadly distressed that out of our entire parish, only my three grandchildren attended.
At the workshop, the children were given the opportunity to do a variety of activities:
1) an 40 Advent Calendar covering the entire Orthodox Nativity Lent.
2)Stories of St Nicholas were told and they planted a wheat candle garden in memory of St Nicholas and his philanthropy to the poor---the wheat garden if started around the 11-14 to 11-15 will show Green spouts by the feast of St Nicholas. They then place on Nativity Eve a White votive in the "garden" symbolizing Christ the Light being born on Nativity.
3) They each made a bank to place their alms to give to Jesus as a birthday present. They were taught in very simple terms the principal of alms giving that so many times we , as adults, have never grasped fully.
4) They were given their first construction paper link of the "prayer chains" they can make over the next 40 days by writing dowen a person or an intention for others that they are praying for. They can earn extra links by performing "acts of Mercy" and kindness to others. By the end of Nativity Lent, they will have a 40+ colorful prayer chain they can decorate their home with for the Nativity Feast.
Despite the lack of kids at the workshop---parents said they were too busy to come for this special learning and activity session--It was well worth it---my 10 year grandson has made a strong commitment to live a holy Nativity Lent and the younger grandsons age 4 and 5 already have asked to do extra chores to get money so they can give alms to Jesus. I think they have gotten off to a good start for Nativity Lent.
It is sad that we as parents and grandparents can seem to make time for baseball, football, soccer, and dance classes but have trouble fitting in church activities that are much more important to our children and grandchildren's lives. This Nativity Lent---think about it---have you scheduled in time to go to the Feast of the Entry of the Theotokos, St Nicholas, the Conception of the Theotokos, or even the Nativity Eve and Nativity Services or Are there things more important to you. Think about what this teaches your children about priorities.