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A story for Christmas

To understand that Christmas is more about giving than receiving.

by Laurence Chilcott

Suitable for Whole School (Pri)


To understand that Christmas is more about giving than receiving.

Preparation and materials

  • Wrap an empty shoebox with attractive Christmas wrapping paper.


  1. A new story for Christmas

    On Christmas Eve in a little village far, far away and long, long ago, children would eagerly await the visit of Father Christmas. But they wouldn’t lie in their beds waiting – they would watch at their windows. Father Christmas wouldn’t fly through the air on his sleigh, he would walk; he wouldn’t carry a sack full of presents on his back, he would carry an old battered violin case.

    As soon as they saw Father Christmas, the children would leave their homes and follow him to the village green where there stood a great oak tree. There, beneath the tree, Father Christmas would open up the violin case, take out his violin and play a haunting tune. As he played, something miraculous would happen. Slowly buds would form on the branches of the tree and then the buds would open and clothe the tree in a rich green cloak of leaves.

    And then, most wonderful of all, the acorns would appear and would fall to the ground and be transformed into Christmas parcels, one for every child in the village. When each child had received a gift, all the children would hurry home to open their parcels, always finding just what they most wanted.

    One Christmas, something happened that had never happened before. Father Christmas stopped playing and looked around at all the children clutching their presents, and then frowned and looked slightly bewildered. He peered up into the tree for a while, and then, somewhat reluctantly, took up his violin again and played. After playing for a short time, he stopped, the familiar smile no longer on his lips and the twinkle no longer in his eyes. Suddenly he looked sad and rather old.

    ‘Someone has taken two presents,’ he said. ‘One gift was for a child who could not be here tonight and now I have nothing for him.’

    As Father Christmas looked into the eyes of each child, they all felt uneasy and a little ashamed that one of their number should do such a mean thing. Then a little boy stepped forward holding out his gift. ‘Take mine to the child,’ he said. ‘I would be happy for him to have it.’

    ‘How kind,’ responded Father Christmas. ‘Because of your generosity you can come with me and give it to the child yourself.’

    So while the children made their way home, Father Christmas took the boy to the edge of the village where there was a path that led deep into the forest. The night was calm and still, the sky was lit by a full moon and the stars seemed to shine brighter than ever. After walking for what seemed an age or but a few minutes, for what seemed miles or just a short distance, they reached a wooden shack. The boy could make out the shapes of some strange animals tethered outside, and he heard the sound of a baby crying inside.

    Father Christmas motioned for the boy to push the door. Slowly and rather cautiously he made his way in and there he saw a mother with a new-born child. Shepherds were kneeling before them, and finely dressed kings were waiting with gifts of their own to give. He could not explain it, but he felt compelled to kneel himself as he offered his gift to the baby. (The assembly could end here.)
  2. (To continue, bring out your shoe box wrapped with Christmas paper.) Say: Could this be one of the presents from the oak tree? What might be in it?

    Ask a child to open the parcel. There’s nothing in it! Explain that Christmas can be a rather empty and short-lived celebration if we forget its true meaning.
  3. Discuss the sacrifices that parents often make to ensure children have a ‘good’ Christmas. Encourage pupils to show gratitude and appreciation for the gifts they receive and awareness of many who are not able to enjoy the sort of Christmas we often take for granted. (This was brought home to our pupils when we received a letter from a child we were supporting in Kenya. We had sent him some extra money at Christmas and in his thank you letter he said he had used it to buy beans for planting, and a blanket.)

Time for reflection

Think about what you expect Christmas to be like for you this year.  


Now think about what you will do to make Christmas special for someone else.

Father God,
as we look forward to the excitement and celebrations of Christmas,
help us not to lose sight of its true meaning.
As we open our gifts given with love,
we remember how you gave the world the gift of Jesus Christ
to show us how much you love each one of us.


Sing a favourite Christmas carol.

Publication date: December 2011   (Vol.13 No.12)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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