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Keeping Christ in Christmas

I always feel a little irked when Christmas is mentioned before Thanksgiving. But I wanted to share a fun Family Home Evening series that we do for Christmas in time for others who might want to do something similar.

When my oldest was a baby, I decided that I wanted to put more emphasis on Jesus Christ at Christmastime than I had experienced in my own family or in the world around me. So when Grasshopper was almost 2yo, we started a tradition in which we stretch our Nativity activity over a series of 4 Family Home Evenings beginning the first Monday after Thanksgiving.

The first Monday, we put up the stable, and in a separate location we put Mary and Joseph with their donkey traveling to that stable in Bethlehem. In the second week, we move Mary and Joseph to the stable, put the baby Jesus in the manger, and put the shepherds in a separate location, in the field with their sheep. The angel is with the shepherd announcing the birth of Jesus.  The third week, the angel is put away, and the shepherds visit the Baby. In the fourth and final week, the stable is put away, Jesus’ family returns home, and the wise men visit the family in their home and presents them with their gifts. Then our family exchanges our gifts with each other.

I have outlined some accompanying scriptures and songs that can be used in a blog post entitled Keeping Christ in Christmas. With little ones, it is a great way for them to learn the Nativity story and talk about it all week.

Last year, I had planned to invite all of our friends to join us. We had a great time the first week, but unfortunately our whole family got sick, including pneumonia for the then 2yo Cricket. So I am hoping to do better this year.

What traditions does your family have that helped you to keep Christ in Christmas?

{ 11 comments… add one }
  • partone November 10, 2011, 10:54 pm

    Love this idea. Thank you. Look forward to hearing what others do.

    We try to read a scripture every night and do the candle burning thing. Like Allison posted last Christmas.

  • Pattyann November 11, 2011, 8:56 am

    We read scriptures about the Savior and do an inspirational story every night the entire month of December. Even my teenagers like stories, and I let them help my finding their own. We take turns each day and the kids really get into it. We also have a “giving block” which is a painted block that alternates between all of us. It is a service block, whoever has it, does a service sometime during the day for anyone they want. They leave the service block in the place where the kindness was done. Then the next person does the service for someone else the next day. We found this is a great idea to use during Christmas time to impress upon the girls the importance of service. I love your idea for family home evening. I love that it is not just a story, but a doing thing to bring the message home.
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  • Amber Mae November 11, 2011, 10:16 am

    That’s such a sweet idea Tracy! We’ve just been discussing what traditions to start with our own little family this year and my husband suggested something similar…now to find a nativity that matches our budget 🙂
    Amber Mae recently posted…“skirty” feelings – hee heeMy Profile

  • Alison Moore Smith November 11, 2011, 5:17 pm

    Tracy P., I love this. In fact, I love anything about Christmas and about bringing in the spirit this way. Thank you!

    partone is referring to the 7 Advent Calendars that I posted on another blog last year.

    Last year we did the Christmas Tree Advent Calendar. We liked it enough that we might do it again.

    We also read a Christmas story every night in December (we own a ton and pull them out every year to fill a sleigh in the library). They aren’t all religious, though.

    We have a number of nativities that we put up around the house and play carols all month long.

    We have a BYU themed Christmas tree in the rec room (which is also a BYU themed room) — which OBVIOUSLY totally religious. 😉

    Look forward to what others do. 🙂
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  • Tracy Keeney November 12, 2011, 3:19 pm

    We do a couple of different things.
    From our very first Christmas, I decided to keep all of our decorating “Christ-centered”. We do the tree, the wreaths, the greenery, the holly, the gold accents, the candles, the star etc, etc, but I avoid all the snowmen, the Santas, the elves — that kind of thing. I don’t think they’re “bad”– we’ve always done Santa as far as the toys and all go, I just figured that with how easy it is for Christmas to become “Santa” oriented, and with all the secular focus outSIDE the home, that the kids already get plenty of that, and that I’d keep our decorating Christ-centered– so our decorating (other than the color scheme and greenery stuff mentioned above) is the tree and several nativity scenes around the house.
    When the kids were little, we did the “progressive manger scene” thing, very similar to what Tracy described. But somewhere along the way, we moved away from that and the nativity scenes just get put up in whole all around the house.
    Our “big” thing now, and actually it’s been several years now, starting about 8 years ago I guess, is the 12 days of Christmas. Each year we pick 3 or 4 families and every night, starting on Dec. 13th, we “ding dong ditch”, leaving a small gift on their doorstep, always centered on Christ, with a scripture to go along with it. The kids look forward to it every year. I used to have a list of the gifts and their scriptures, but starting about 4 years ago, I started having the kids come up with their own ideas. We use an FHE night to organize it all. The kids think of the scriptures and what kind of little gift we could leave that goes along with the scripture. Then on Christmas Eve, we deliver the last gift and carol for them. We usually choose 1 family from the ward, 1 single adult/widow, and 1 non-member family or person. Often we end up with 4, like last year — just because one or more of us felt really strongly that we needed to include that extra person or family to the list. We’ve had very good experiences doing this– lots of good missionary work with hearts and minds being changed toward our faith. People who believed we weren’t Christian coming to understand that we are.

  • Tracy Polyak November 12, 2011, 3:27 pm

    Tracy K., I would love if you could share some examples of gifts you have given.

  • Tracy Keeney November 12, 2011, 5:16 pm

    We always do cheaper things, often things from the $1 store and homemade treats since there are 3 or 4 families over 12 days. I always COUNT on $40 of our budget to go towards it. I used to have it all written down, but we stopped doing the same 12 things every year once the kids started coming up with some of their own ideas. But we have a few that we seem to repeat– sometimes with a different scripture, but one that still goes along really well.

    A candle: “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.”

    A loaf of homemade bread: “And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.”

    An angel ornament: ” And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord… And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”

    A few bottles of flavored water. ” But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.”

    A box of candy canes: With the story about the candy canes being a symbol of the shepherds staff. One of the brands has the story on the back of the box, but you can find it online too.

    On year I found a $1 manger scene ornament, and I used “And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.”

    Agh— trying to think of a few others we’ve done.

    Oh– last year we did gold, frankincense and myrrh over three nights. On the “gold” night we did a bag of those gold foil wrapped chocolate coins with the scripture that talked about the gifts the 3 kings brought. Then the next night we took a bottle of maple syrup, with a description of what myrrh really is— the sap/gum from a tree in the middle east that was used for healing, (otherwise known as The Balm of Gilead– pretty cool, eh?) Then for Frankincense, we took Golden Raisins, (because that’s what frankincense kind of looks like) and the note we left showed a picture I got off the internet with a description of what it actually is– another gum from a tree.

    I remember one year we did a can of air freshener– but for the life of me I can’t remember what the scripture reference was! 🙂

    If I can think of some of the others I’ll post them.

  • jennycherie November 14, 2011, 5:31 pm

    love these ideas. . . I’m not sure how well we do at keeping Christ in Christmas. We participate in church stuff, we center FHE around the Savior, we try to take goodies to a few people beyond our normal circle of friends. . . What else? I usual don’t get around to doing ANYthing Christmas related until finals are over and my grades are turned in, around mid-December. I really want to try the ding-dong ditch this year though. I am not sure if we can manage 12 days so we may have to think smaller. 😉
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  • Tracy Polyak November 14, 2011, 7:59 pm

    jennycherie,

    I don’t think I could worry about it much if I were in school. It is all I can do to take some time to make Christmas gifts with the kids (ages 3 and 6), and I am a stay-at-home mom.

  • Kristen Chevrier December 25, 2011, 9:47 pm

    Great ideas! Tracy P., I love your nativity sequence. That is very cool.

  • Kristen Chevrier December 25, 2011, 9:50 pm

    jennycherie, you’re doing great. 🙂

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