Monday, December 15, 2008


We are already celebrating the third week of Advent,. This is the week we light our pink candle and rejoice because, Christmas is just around the corner. I would like to take this time to share our family's favorite things about this time of year. Our family has many traditions that make the season special.
Some of our traditions are fun but spiritually meaningless. The kids and I make cookies together every year. As a family, we go look at Christmas light displays in the evenings. We take a Christmas card picture of the kids in their Christmas p.j.'s to send to our family and friends. We always eat appetizers for dinner on Christmas Eve. These traditions, though they are somewhat frivolous, are still always a part of the season for our family.
The things I really look forward to the most at Christmastime though, are the ones that focus on Jesus, rather than the worldly aspects of the season. Starting on the first Sunday of Advent we end our dinners with a family Advent prayer service. It takes only a few moments but we dim the lights, light our Advent candles, and say our special Advent prayers. The children take turns leading the prayers. It is a peaceful way to remember what we are waiting for in Advent.
Another way we make our holiday preparations meaningful and spiritual is by attending two different live nativities put on in our community. One is a walk-through nativity where we become a part of the first Christmas. We experience the city of Bethlehem, with all its busyness and overcrowding. Then, with the shepherds and the wise men we search for and find baby Jesus and his holy family in the stable. We have a chance to adore Him as his first visitors did thousands of years ago. The second live nativity we attend is a drive-through version. Though we are not as much a part of this one we love seeing things as they were when Jesus was born as a poor baby in a stable. We sit in our car and listen to spiritual music and feel the warmth and safety of knowing God’s immense love for us.
My favorite of all our Christmas traditions, however, is our own family nativities. We started collecting nativities a few years back and we add to our collection each year. We are up to ten and my goal is to have them everywhere you look in our house at Christmas. When we decorate our house, in early December, we always save the nativities for last. Right before the children go to bed we sit down at the foot of the tree and read the story of the first Christmas, as we unwrap our holy figures and set up our many crèches. Then we hide away all the baby Jesus’ until Christmas morning. Every Christmas Eve, again right before the children’s bedtime, Tim and I give them our newest nativity. We set it up and re-read the Bible account of the first Christmas. Then on Christmas morning, before we open any gifts, each person in the family gets one baby Jesus to place before Mary and Joseph in his respective stable. The kids get as excited for this as they do for their presents! Though we only take a minute or two to admire the scenes ,before we move on to the presents awaiting us under the tree, it reminds us again of what we are truly celebrating!
We are so blessed to once more be anticipating and participating in this holy time of year. The season of Christmas is perhaps, God’s greatest symbol of hope. And the gift of His Son is, without a doubt, the greatest sign of His love, as alive in the world today as it was all those years ago at the very first Christmas.

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