I love the Christmas season so I wanted to share some of my favorite Christmas traditions in hopes that you will share some in the comments section below.
Decorating, Music, and the Best Christmas Pageant Ever
We love decorating the house together while listening to Christmas songs and reading The Best Christmas Pageant Ever aloud. I usually read while my husband fixes the lights on the tree which is a daunting task. It keeps the mood light while he has to replace broken or dead lights. There are a few words of profanity in this book uttered by the scrappy Herdman bunch. (I substitute those words when I read it out loud.) This book is a treasure and never ceases to open my eyes once more to the meaning of the Christmas Story.
Lessons from the people of the Nativity
So many blessings come from visiting teaching. And it just so happens that we get to visit teach a sister who works for Deseret Book. Sometimes when we visit her, she gives us a little treasure she found in the store. A few years ago she gave me and my partner A Christ-Centered Christmas: Seven Traditions to Lead Us Closer to the Savior by Emily Freeman. The author talks about different characters in the Nativity and what we can learn from them and how they came near unto the Savior. We do them on Sunday and Monday nights (Family Home Evening) lessons throughout December.
The Last Straw
We fill a manger (which is really a basket) with straw throughout the month of December. We pick names within the family and try to serve that person all week doing acts of service for them. We can also put straw in for any act of service but it has been good for us to also have a person to keep in mind during the week. We begin this tradition by reading the children’s book, The Last Straw. On Christmas Eve we act out the Nativity reading from Luke 2 and place baby Jesus in the manger. Baby Jesus has usually been a homely but very loved doll wrapped in a white blanket. I love this part and I’m touched every time we do it especially with my 4 year old son who so cradles baby Jesus in his arms with so much love before he places him in the manger.
The Bethlehem Dinner
We don’t actually do this the same every year. The first year we did this our friends invited us over. We were to come dressed as in Christ’s day. In their basement they had backdrops covering the walls that were retired backdrops for a Nativity play so it looked so authentic. The tables were set on the ground as in Christ’s day and we ate from common plates, meaning we shared the entrees from the same plates. We ate foods common to Christ’s day as well. After the dinner we sang some Christmas songs and acted out the Nativity. As we have done this as a family we have done a more simplified version on Christmas Eve.
I don’t think I have to explain this one. We know the neighborhoods nearby that really decorate with lights and take a little drive.
My son passed away over six years ago. His birthday comes just a few days before Christmas and has become a precious and tender tradition for our family. We throw a small birthday party, share memories of him, and watch some home video of him. We release a balloon for each year old he would be. We write messages to him on these balloons and release them into the sky. Each child is given a gift from Kyle which has always been a book, usually a Christmas book. I love that his birthday precedes the day that celebrates Christ’s birth. It brings it all into perspective and draws me closer to the Savior.
Angels for our Tree
Each Christmas we add a small framed picture ornament to our tree of a loved one who has passed on or come before us. We share with the children what we know about this ancestor or recently passed loved one and talk about what they are doing in the spirit world. I love the spirit this brings to our home. Someday I hope to have a tree dedicated to our angels.
Reading Christmas stories by the Christmas tree
My husband has a thing for lights on trees. As a result our tree has so many lights that it lights the room up enough that we read by the tree. Being next to the tree brings a beautiful atmosphere and spirit.
I love gathering with family no matter if it is before or after Christmas Day. Just being surrounded by my loved ones is Christmas to me since I don’t live by any immediate family members.
I can’t go into detail here or I might reveal some long held family secrets but suffice it to say we love anonymous service and doorbell ditching.
I love the spirit that beautiful Christmas music brings. I enjoy learning the beautiful music of the season in the ward choir too. I feel a kinship to the heavenly hosts who heralded Christ’s birth. This has been a new favorite by the piano guys, a beautiful version of O Come, Emmanuel.
Those unexpected Christmas moments
Sometimes it sneaks up on me and it is ever so touching, an extra hug from someone I visit teach, reading Christmas letters and cards, making a gift with or for my child, sharing my testimony, hearing someone’s testimony, witnessing a birth, pondering the Savior, and the list goes on and on.
Please share with us how you celebrate the birth of Christ.