Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Staying with the Nativity Story

I’m participating in the Keeping Christ in Christmas Blog Carnival, hosted by Raising (& Teaching) Little SaintsTruly Rich Mom and Arma Dei: Equipping Catholic Families. We'll be sharing different ways, tips, stories and real-life experiences that will help us focus on Jesus as the Reason for the Christmas season. Please scroll down to the end of the post to see the list of carnival entries.

Christmas is a holiday that can easily lose its meaning for people. Little ones, especially, can come to believe that the season is all about them - their wants, their desires - when they see their mountain of presents under a well-decorated Christmas tree. (In our case, the mountain is from family and friends.)

As a mother to two wee ones, I wish to veer away from the commercialism of the season and "keep Christ in Christmas." I want my children to grow up with their eyes and hearts on the real reason of this wonderful celebration.

It starts with the nativity story

Little kids like good stories, and nothing is more beautiful than the story of the birth of Jesus. From the moment the angel Gabriel appears to Mary up to when the Wise Men trudge to where the Holy Infant lays, children find every detail exciting and enthralling.

By letting this wondrous narrative live in our children's consciousness right from their earliest years, we are already imparting to them that Christmas is about Jesus. This will be our foundation and  baseline for deeper discussions in the future as our children grow older.

DIY Nativity Play Set

Some ways to help young children soak in the story

Read Christmas books together

We just started a new family tradition of unwrapping one Christmas book every day from the first of December until Christmas Eve. I collected our books within one year, choosing mostly those that are about the Nativity or the traditions surrounding it. Our favorites so far are those by author Tomie dePaola, who tells such charming stories while effortlessly passing on information about the Catholic faith.

Make your child her own nativity play set 

I bought a cardboard Nativity Set, pictured above, from Booksale. My daughter just loved coloring and assembling the Holy Family, shepherds, Three Kings, animals, and the stable. The set now proudly sits on our Jesse Tree table and gets played with all the time. 

Here are some links for your child's own nativity play set which you can do together:
Making Friends - just print and assemble
Scrapbook Scrapbook - print, color, and assemble
Life Your Way - print and assemble; has option to color yourself

Color Advent coloring pages

Being always on the lookout for Christmas-related activities, I found an activity book featuring Bible characters called My Heavenly Helper. It goes so well with the readings for our Jesse Tree.

I found some links for you to download and enjoy doing the same with your children:
Ministry to Children - a free printable set containing one coloring page for each week of Advent
DLTK - I love this free Christmas Story Advent Coloring Book featuring different scenes in the story
Image from DLTK


Bring the story of Jesus to life by dramatizing it! You can do your own mini-play complete with costumes and dialogue, or you can use your nativity set to re-enact the holy birth. It's a fun way to get to know the story intimately and will surely stay in our children's memories until adulthood.

Staying with the Nativity Story and keeping our focus on it will help our families keep Christ in Christmas. The mountain of presents under our trees may give our children temporary happiness, but the joy they will receive by rooting them in our faith will last a lifetime.

Here are the links to the other blog carnival participants. I hope you'll take the time to visit them and leave a comment on their posts! :) The list will be updated throughout the day, so please do come back and check on them. God bless us all!

Joy: Keeping Christ in Christmas: Advent Interruptions
The Breadbox Letters: Interrupted by Glory
TwentyTuesdayAfternoons: Keeping Christ in Christmas/ The Season of Giving / A Wee Bit of Beach Holiday Angst
The Learning Basket: Staying With the Nativity Story
Tercets: Keeping Christ in Christmas
Rosary Mom: Keeping Christ in Christmas
Ate Maui: Hoping and Bringing Hope
Written By the Finger of God: 12 Traditions for Keeping Christ in Christmas
Dominique's Desk: Keeping Christ in Christmas
Felix at Fifty: What Jesus Wants for Christmas
Mommy Bares All: Birthday Cake for the Birthday Boy on Christmas Day
Between Now and Later: Keeping Christ in Christmas, I am trying...
Lique's Antics: Family Antics: Christmas Reflection
Life of Fortunate Chances: Our First Ever Christmas: Keeping Christ in Christmas
The Mommy Journey: Keeping Christ in Christmas
Roller Coaster Ride: How to Remind Your Kids of Jesus Christ This Christmas
Cymplified: Christ -Centered Christmas: Cymplified!
Mountain Grace: Keeping Christ in Christmas
Touring Kitty: Grown-up Christmas List
Mommy Chinkysoup for the Soul: A Very Special Christmas
City Girl, Country Home: Finding Jesus in a Flurry
Coffee Moments with Sam: Christmas Unwrapped: 5 Presents Our Kids Truly Deserve
Raising Lifelong Learners: Keeping Christ in Christmas
The Diary of a Sower: Keeping Christ in Christmas: Celebrating the Golden Days
Arma Dei: Equipping Catholic Families: Keeping Christ in Christmas
Raising (and Teaching) Little Saints: Keeping Christ in Christmas
Truly Rich Mom: The Greatest Gift of All This Christmas
Joy-Filled Family: CHRIST in Christmas
Blueberry 010: Keeping Christ in Christmas: Jesus is the Reason for the Season
Deeper Truth Blog: Keeping Christ in Christmas Carnival
Holy Ducklings: 10 Ways to Make Advent Special for Your Little Ducklings
Green Eggs and Moms: Keeping Christ in Christmas: Green Eggs & Moms Style!

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Cym Marzan said...

It is true that children love stories and stories from the Bible such as the Christmas story are sure to delight them. A puppet show of the Christmas story will also be a good idea. Love your post!

Mariel @ The Learning Basket said...

Thanks Cym! I love the puppet show idea. I think finger puppets would be great! :)

Anabelle Hazard said...

Ooh, I forgot about reading books to them.  Great idea. Thanks

Nancy Shuman said...

I LOVE the idea of unwrapping a Christmas book a day ... WONDERFUL! !  Lots of great ideas here.  I have preschool and homeschooled grandchildren and am so glad to have found your blog!

Felix said...

When I was a child back in the 1960’s, my sister and I ouldn’t wait every year for my mother to bring out her special Nativity set. It was very large, made of wood, with figures that were hand carved by German monks. I’m sure it was a very valuable collectible. But to us kids, it was the best action figure playset ever! We played out the Nativity narrative from Luke’s Gospel over and over every year, pretending the lighted star on the top of the Christmas tree was the Star of Bethlehem. In my mind’s eye, I can still see the sheep’s chipped white paint, and the startling purples and golds of the Wisemens’ robes and crowns…. Ah, the memories! I’m sure Mom knew we were “abusing” her expensive collectible, but what a wise woman she was to never let on or scold us in any way for our play. Our souls meant more to her than mere “stuff” – even really nice stuff! I love all your Keeping Christ in Christmas tips, especially the one about the Nativity. Opening a Christmas book a day is great, too. Next year for sure!

TrulyRichMom/TeacherMamaTina said...

You already know how much I love how you always put so much thought and effort in the activities you prepare for your kids, my dear! :) Thanks for joining the carnival! God bless!

Cheryl said...

Visiting from the "Keep Christ in Christmas Carnival."  You have some great ideas for keeping the real reason behind the season.  I especially love the idea of having one's kids dramatize the Nativity story, perhaps tell it in their own words instead of reading it from the Bible. It's those type of hands-on, whole body experiences that I think really touch kids' hearts. 

Thank you for sharing! Blessings to you this holiday season!


Mariel @ The Learning Basket said...

Thanks for visiting my blog, Cheryl! We actually dramatized the Nativity story last night, and my 4-year old was the one who actually initiated and directed our "play." :)

Mariel @ The Learning Basket said...

Thank you for initiating the carnival Tina! 

Mariel @ The Learning Basket said...

Oh I would love for my kids to have a wooden Nativity set. I would let them play with it too for sure! Your mom's a wise woman to let you play with such a treasure. It reminds me of something I heard before, about letting our families use the special dishes that we have instead of just displaying/showcasing them on a shelf. Letting children use those expensive things will let kids know how more important they are than those :)

Mariel @ The Learning Basket said...

Thank you for dropping by Nancy! Are you homeschooling your grandchildren yourself? :)

Mich Nicolas said...

Great post, Mariel! Thanks for sharing!

Tiffany Dunois said...

Great ideas for kids, I will be keeping these in mind for next year!

noreen said...

Hi Mariel! You have many great ideas to keeping Christ in Christmas. Thank you for sharing your resources and links. May God bless you during this Christmas Season. I popped over from the link up.