Ah, the memories of Christmas’ past inspire us, and new memories are made. We know Christmas is meant to be a celebration of Jesus’ birth. It is a Holy, awe-inspiring occasion. Christmas is not just reindeer and Santa, presents and twinkling lights, sweet decadent treats and fancy dishes, parties and ugly sweaters. We know its important, but how do we compete with all that?
The nativity under the tree is a symbol of his birth and I have seen some elaborate ones. Let’s bring it out from under the tree, raise it to eye level, and bring attention to it in bigger ways. I’ve seen yards with lights on what seems like every branch of every tree. The wow factor is inspiring.
I wanted to inspire my children to look to Jesus at Christmas, and so when they were little, I would bake a white cake, with white frosting, and place a single candle in the center. A Birthday Cake for baby Jesus. That plain cake sat on the table year after year among all the chocolate candy and decorated cookies. Of course, not very appealing in comparison, especially to a kid, but we sang happy birthday to Jesus and blew out the candle. That was it. Our extent of bringing Christ into our celebration. For years, I thought it insignificant and lacking.
Birthday Cake makes a comeback
As the children got older, instead of a birthday cake, I placed a large, beautifully carved candle my son made as a centerpiece in the middle of all that scrumptious food and we opened our celebration with lighting the candle and saying a prayer. It was a little more satisfying, and though for several years we’ve made it to the Christmas Eve Candle Light services at our church, I always felt there should be more.
However, last year, when my oldest granddaughter, Marie brought a simple white birthday cake with a single candle and her children sang happy birthday to Jesus, I felt we had come full circle. Maybe my simple white cake wasn’t so insignificant after all. The tradition had carried forward. I was thrilled.
A week of crafting
Last year, I spent a week in North Carolina with our youngest granddaughter, Ellie, only seven at the time. She wanted to put on a Christmas program for her parents. She and I spent the week rehearsing and crafting a little stage using a small nativity scene. The nativity didn’t have angels or shepherds or wisemen, so we made popsicle stick people and dressed them in ribbon robes and glittered button crowns. We crafted a backdrop stable onto a tri-fold display board complete with stars and glittery angels in a midnight blue felt sky. Ellie even formed little sheep from some modeling clay.
A Christmas Program to remember
The evening of the program arrived. Ellie began to read the Christmas story from her little children’s Bible, and then handed it to me to read while she moved Mary and Joseph and the donkey to the popsicle-stick hotel. After she moved the angels onto the purple mountains above the green felt field with the sheep and shepherds, she led our “audience” in singing Joy to the World. And then, she helped the shepherds and sheep to the stable and we sang Away in a Manger. When she walked the wise men in on cue, we sang Silent Night. Ellie ended the program by passing out little gold candy boxes. “Jesus is our gift for Christmas,” she said, and we sang We Wish You a Merry Christmas. She planned and orchestrated it all. It was so cute—beautiful, actually.
I will hold these memory-making occasions in my heart. I pray they will continue to be carried forward year after year.
What memories are you making with your children? Grandchildren? Friends and family? No matter how insignificant it may seem today, you may be surprised to see how far it travels.
Merry Christmas to you all.
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