Any one thinking of the Holy Child as born in December would mean by it exactly what we mean by it;
that Christ is not merely a summer sun of the prosperous but a winter fire for the unfortunate.
—G.K. Chesterton, from The New Jerusalem, Ch. 5
And when we give each other Christmas gifts in His name, let us remember that
He has given us the sun and the moon and the stars, and the earth with its forests and mountains
and oceans — and all that lives and move upon them.
He has given us all green things and everything that blossoms and bears fruit
and all that we quarrel about and all that we have misused–
and to save us from our foolishness, from all our sins, He came down to earth and gave us Himself.
When I was a little girl, Christmas was always one of my favorite times of the year. I absolutely loved the Nativity story — hearing it, performing it, or reading about it in my little picture book called Christmas Is… by Nancy McConnell (I still have this book and read it to my children on Christmas Eve). There was something so compelling about baby Jesus — this tiny, helpless little creature that would grow up to save the world — and Mary seemed so warm and loving, the perfect mother. As an adult I went through a period where I really struggled with my faith, and even went so far as to declare myself an unbeliever. It was a time of bitter heartache, but perhaps it was necessary in order for me to grow as a person of faith. In any case, the thing I missed most above all else was my relationship to the Nativity story. Just the thought of it would bring me to tears! Christmas will always involve presents, and that’s not an entirely bad thing, but the Nativity will always be at the heart of the day for me.
Activity: Make a Peg Doll Nativity
This year I wanted my children to have a nativity that was artistic and beautiful, but also durable enough to be touched and played with. I looked around online and found many lovely nativity sets, but they were all upwards of $200-$300! Around the same time I started experimenting with making peg dolls for our nature table. I thought to myself, wouldn’t these peg dolls make an interesting nativity? One thing I don’t have is tons of cash, but I do have some free time (occasionally) and I love to make things, so I gave it a shot. I didn’t use any patterns; I just created their faces and clothes as I worked on each one. I’m so happy with the finished product, and I hope my children enjoy looking at it and playing with it for years to come. [Just a note: I did not make the wooden animals; the peg doll bodies came from ArtDexi.]
The Book of Luke, Chapter 2, Verses 1-20 (KJV)
1 And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed. 2 (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)3 And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. 4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) 5 To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. 6 And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. 7 And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. 10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. 12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, 14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
15 And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. 16 And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.17 And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. 18 And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds. 19 But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart. 20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.