Christmas still big holiday for children

Published 12:00 am Sunday, December 21, 2003

Santa Claus is making his list and checking it twice, trying to find out who's naughty or nice.

Children throughout Lawrence County know that well, and some have had visions of sugar plums dancing in their heads before their families' Thanksgiving turkeys were carved.

"I want an X-Box. I help my mom. I run the sweeper, do the dishes and take out the trash," said Devin Guy, a third-grader at Whitwell Elementary.

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"I feed the dog," said Guy's classmate Brooke Miller.

For adults, Christmas often changes from the season of holiday giving and twinkling lights to a season of crowded malls and over-the-top


Nevertheless, many children are simply ready to dive under the tree at 6 a.m. Thursday - maybe earlier.

Many already know parts of the Christmas story.

"Jesus was born," Miller said. "Shepherds came, following a star…"

"They followed the North Star," chimed in Miller's Whitwell classmate Tori Leader. "An angel came, and she said, 'A baby was born in Bethlehem.' There was no room at the inn, so they had to live on a barn. Shepherds came as the baby was fast asleep in a manger bed. Then, they opened gifts. It was gold, perfume and a crown."

Chesapeake Elementary kindergartner Kaylee Curry is ready for the big man in the red suit to pay her a visit - and she knows what she has to do to get him to visit.

"He brings presents for all the boys and girls, but if you're a bad person, you don't get any presents," she said.

According to Curry, Christmas started when "They made Santa." She was not exactly sure when that was, but her classmate Jordan Miller had an answer.

"A couple of years ago," he said.

"Jesus was born," chimed classmate Nate Henson.

Sean Lawless, another Whitwell third-grader, said he and his family celebrate Jesus' birthday. Besides keeping his fingers crossed for the Play Station 2 game "Smackdown: Here Comes the Pain," Lawless is crossing them even tighter for a white Christmas.

"I want to make snowmen, throw snowballs and make snow angels," he said.

Jordan Miller also wants his chance to make "snowmans." On Christmas, Miller said he and his family make Christmas cookies. This year, he wants a motorcycle and said he is not afraid to ride one.

Whitwell student Britney Camp is also ready to play with snowballs and her presents. She already knows what one of them is.

"Mom said I'm getting a Barbie that comes up to here," she said holding up her hand near her head. "She still has it in layaway."

When spending a great deal of time with young children as Christmas approaches, some adults become children themselves - or at least begin to see things through younger eyes.

Elizabeth Finch, a first-year kindergarten teacher at Chesapeake Elementary, is learning this well.

"They bring back the innocence of Christmas," she said. "They're so innocent, and so enthusiastic and still believe in Santa Claus."

While many children are focused on presents, Finch said she and other teachers at her school try to teach the children that giving is just as important. The children have grown more and more excited as the holiday draws near.

One young girl became a bit fearful. She then got in trouble at school and remembered that Santa checks his list twice.

"It brings the Christmas spirit back in yourself," Finch said. "You want to do everything you can to make Christmas good for them."

Kathy Cunningham, a teacher's aide at Whitwell Elementary, said one thing that surprises her about children and Christmas is that many will ask Santa for more emotional needs than material wants.

"One child came to me and said, 'I got the best Christmas present ever. Mom and Dad are getting back together,'" she said. "After the first year I helped with our 'Breakfast with Santa,' I said I couldn't do it anymore. Some children told Santa, 'I want my dad to stop hitting my mom.'"

Being around children in the holiday season, Cunningham said, is often an effective way to forget about adult hassles of the season.

"It gets pretty hectic," she said. "We have the play and other activities, and it's sometimes hard to buckle down. There's often interruptions. But, it's good in the sense that there's lots of laughing, sharing and smiles. It's a fun time of year, a time of excitement."