My mom is such a smart woman. She had so many cool ideas, so many meaningful pieces of spirit she infused into our lives growing up. I can only hope to be half as creative and inspirational as she was (is) and I will be in good shape.
One of the many things she did was to begin preparing us for Christmas right after Thanksgiving was over. Preparing us for Christmas was more than just the “fun stuff” …. making wish lists, baking cookies, hanging ornaments on trees and visiting Santa. Preparing us for Christmas meant putting substantial effort into infusing into our hearts “The Reason for the Season”. She took her responsibility as a parent to create kind, good-hearted people very seriously. Not only did we work to collect Jesus Money, she had us on task at home as well.
Every year right after Thanksgiving my mom would break out the nativity. She had this beautiful Fontanini nativity … I’ve wanted one of my own since I grew up and started preparing my own home for Christmas. This year I finally got one!!
She would set the nativity out in the living room where everyone could see it and touch it …. but there would be one thing missing….
There was no baby Jesus. Well of course! He wasn’t due to arrive until Christmas!
My mom would set out the nativity with a small basket or jar of straw near the empty manger…and it was our job to fill that manger…to make sure that there was a nice soft bed for baby Jesus when he arrived.
How we were to fill the manger was the ingenious part: Every time you performed a random act of kindness, you could put one piece of straw in the manger. The caveat: no one could see you lay down that piece of straw. It was all supposed to happen anonymously. She was teaching us to enjoy the act of being kind … to recognize the pleasure that comes from doing good…even if there is no one else around to stroke your ego. She was teaching us that even when no one else is there to see what you have done… you are blessing them …and in turn, you are blessing Jesus.
In what I see as a brilliant twist, every year on Christmas Eve, Santa would deliver baby Jesus to his manger. When we awoke on Christmas morning, the brand new baby was there smiling at us. My mom found another way to bring the jovial fun of Santa and intermingle it with the true reason we were celebrating, and by doing so she kept the spirit of Christmas in our hearts all season long.
If you are looking for more ways to keep the fun of Santa and the spirit of Christ in your family’s Christmas holiday, check out the ebook: To Elf or Not To Elf, How to Have a Christ Focused Christmas Without Ruining the Fun or Lying to Your Kids by Shanna Goodman. You can get this book for $2.99 today with the promo code FOCUS (normally $4.99).