Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Jesus in a Barn

So the first step in being intentional about keeping Christ in all we do for Christmas is looking at some of what we do now. There are many things that we do with our immediate and extended family and of course our church family but today I will just talk about one of the simple traditions that we have. Besides the fact that I have been known to listen to Christmas music in July, I love to decorate the house with the kids and Jason. It has become a tradition that everyone looks forward to every year. When Liam first came out of the hospital we asked him what was one of the things he wanted to do first and he said "Get the house ready for Christmas." So that first weekend he was home we started. We made some hot chocolate, turned on the Christmas CD's, sang along to the music and put on our Santa hat's....well the kids and I did, Jason is a little more reserved!

This year Caroline wanted to decorate our Nativity scene. I usually do this and tell the kids the Christmas story as I set it out. Caroline took great pride in telling the other kids who each of the figures were and then placed them exactly where she wanted them in the scene. Trinity was in awe. After Caroline had finished placing all the characters we took some Christmas lights and placed them on the roof of the creche. "It is beautiful!" breathed this little voice that came from our youngest. She could not take her eyes of the picture.

I am not sure if it was the way that her older sister took the time to tell her about the manger scene or if Trinity is just at the age where is enamoured by all babies but she seems to have taken a liking to our little Nativity set. Yesterday, we were in a store and one of the clerks asked her what was on her list for Santa. TJ said "I asked him for a Dora for my dollhouse and I thanked him for being so nice." When the clerk asked her if that was all she wanted she said, "No, I also want my own Jesus in a barn." Every time I think of it I smile and giggle a little. Maybe this year she should have a nativity set that she can play with and set up herself.

As I struggle to be more intentional about our Christmas traditions I realize that each of you probably have a tradition or two and if you share, it would enrich us all! I would love to hear about what you do to focus yourself or your family on Christ for Christmas season. Please post a comment. I would really love to hear about what you do.


  1. God is so awesome and so intentional. This is the activity we are going to do tonight. There will be lots of stories of family Christmas memories but what I want to hear as well is how do you keep Christ in Christmas!
    See you later!
    Love ya

  2. Dear Kim
    I still have not figured out how to post to your blog but your considerations of how to celebrate Christmas so that people will know that you are celebrating Christ’s birth is a subject that I have thought long and hard about for many years, starting when my children were toddlers!
    I don’t think I will have anything really new to share but I’d love to share my ideas anyway.
    From the very first Christmas with Cam, I have made it a practice to set out the nativity scenes ( of which I have quite a few), with the children at least a week before the Santa Claus parade ( both Milton’s and Toronto’s). They were the first decoration out and the last to be put away! For many years the children played with them, retelling the story and often bringing unexpected guests like care bear and ninja turtle action figures to visit! Each visit required the retelling of the story. The children’s interest continued throughout the season. Over the years we have accumulated a variety of child friendly sets including home made at Church school, a felt set, a Playmobil set and Fisher Price set. So I have always seen Nativity Scenes as interactive and living models of Christ’s birth. This was my favourite Christmas activity. Today when I look at the sets that we have I am overcome with the richness of the play that they represent and the way in which from an early age Cam and Heather were comfortable with Jesus’ presence. It would be interesting to know what Cam and Heather remember. Even in China I set up a nativity scene before the time of the Santa Claus parades in Canad
    Until they were teenagers we had an advent wreath at home accompanied by a weekly ‘service’ of candlelighting and lighting the appropriate candles at dinnertime throughout the week.
    A few weeks before Christmas we used to have a special trip to Zellers devoted only to choosing a toy to put in the Salvation Army Christmas box. We spent a lot of time talking about what would be appropriate and lots of time in the toy department choosing the right gift. This was supported at other times in the year when we might choose some of their own toys to give away for the benefit of others. The most memorable was when a hurricane destroyed homes in Barrie.
    Any trip to the mall included a visit to the Salvation Army kettle and contributing their own or my coins.
    Involvement in church activities throughout advent was a highlight. Both children had many opportunities to make angels, stars, nativity scenes and participate in spontaneous and rehearsed pageants. Sometimes at home too! Dress up clothes for all occasions have been an important part of our playthings!!
    For several years a friend and I organized an Epiphany party, serving chili as a fundraiser for a needy family. Cam and Heather and my friend’s children were always a part of the discussions, preparations, crafts and dramas related to this event.
    Here in China I always emphasize to my students and other visitors, the true meaning of Christmas for me. They are always interested in learning about the secular customs but I share first of all the story of the Saviour’s birth. Now, when they have a question about a Christmas custom, they preface oit by saying, “I know the important thing about Christmas is Jesus’ birth, but can you tell me about...?” As I have been sharing about trees, wreaths and candy canes I have been able to relate their significance to the hope found in Jesus and the promise of everlasting life!!
    I am enjoying hearing of your Advent journey and am continuing to pray for Liam as his healing continues.