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How To Keep Christ in Christmas in Your Home

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I have friends from all faiths and who celebrate different traditions and winter holidays; however, as a Christian, I always strive to remember the true meaning of Christmas: the birth of Christ, the real “Reason for the Season” for our family.

Free Community Nativity display in Carrollton, Texas during the Christmas Season

Since I’m an immigrant to the USA, all the Christmas shopping and Christmas baking was new to me, as was Santa Claus, his elves and reindeer. There wasn’t any snow in the Caribbean to make snowmen either, so Christmas has always been about the Nativity Story and the three Reyes Magos (wise men) for me.

As a Latina mom, it has been very important for me to keep both the beauty of my culture and the Spirit of Christmas alive in our home, which meant celebrating in our own peculiar way. I always tell the girls that we will focus on Christ even when others focus on mas, which is the word for “more” in Spanish (with an accent mark).

In Christmas, when you do less, you stress less, because peace comes from focusing on what really matters. It’s so easy to get frantic about giving that it takes the joy out of it and it’s so easy to become a Christmas hoarder that both your pocket and your sanity will for sure suffer trying to be a supermom.

Keeping Christ in Christmas for me means to keep Christmas simple and making the Nativity Scene and its meaning the exclusive focus of our Christmas traditions. A nativity scene is an exhibition of art figures representing the birth of Jesus and the first nativity scene has been credited to Saint Francis of Assisi, who set it up to emphasize Christ and set aside materialism through gift giving.

I have become a bit of a collector because I get a different nativity set each year and I love to see the diversity in figurines. You typically have representations of Jesus, his mother, Mary, and her husband, Joseph in the manger, and to that you add shepherds, sheep, and angels, farm animals, hay, the three wise men and their camels, a donkey and an ox, but many may add a cultural, non Biblical, element to the display.

I was invited to a media event to preview the Carrollton Community Nativity, an annual event hosted by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, now in its 13th year, that takes place the first weekend in December, delighting guests with unique display of over a thousand nativity scenes from 200 countries all over the world and musical performances that invoke the Christmas spirit.

Free Community Nativity display in Carrollton, Texas during the Christmas Season

David Blake, who serves as president for the congregation as part of the volunteer clergy for the LDS Church, explained that the Nativity Community started in an effort to make Christmas less commercial and more about celebrating Christ and “kicking off the Christmas Season in the right way.” The most special nativity scene for him is from Liberia:

There is a nativity from Liberia, which is a war-torn country in Africa, which is made from bullet shells that were collected and fashioned into a nativity… and I’m so amazed at the courage, love, and determination that I imagine from { its  creator } to collect weapons of war and fashion them into symbols of peace, and I love bringing that set every year and making sure it’s on display because of what it represents. My hope is that one day there will not be weapons of war and there will only be symbols of peace.

It was a really sweet experience for me because I got to see some people I missed so much and it reminded me of times my own nativity scene sets were displayed at this event and how my daughters would wow guests with their beautiful singing voice. And probably my favorite memory was 2013 when we were part of the Live Nativity where Eliana was Baby Jesus! I’ll have to dig up some pictures!

If you are in the DFW area, this is a must see (and FREE!) event and the Live Nativity to make Christmas come alive for your children. You will see nativity sets that will shock you, impress you, and warm your heart. Both the crew and the collection are volunteered by people in the community and include nativity sets from household names like Fontanini and Lladro to simple kid friendly sets like the Fisher Price Nativity Set or Christmas story finger puppets (perfect for our little ones!).

Free Community Nativity display in Carrollton, Texas during the Christmas Season

There are several simple ways we make sure to have a Christ-centered Christmas in our home, to remind us at every glance why we are celebrating this time of year:

Write the word “Christmas,” and make it your personal rule to not use an X to replace the word “Christ,” even if you are texting.

Send out Christmas cards that are focused on Christ, especially those with a Bible verse or the ones that benefit a non-profit organization!

Avoid other Holiday decorations. I love that there are symbols available for those who celebrate other beliefs or even just the festivities, but if you are a Christian mom, shopping only or mostly Christ-centered items helps to reinforce the meaning and the message. I do have small Disney-themed tree (what Disney mom wouldn’t?) but our home decor reflects what we are celebrating. You can incorporate Christmas wreaths, wall art hangings and ornaments, that include a nativity scene, Bible verse, or sacred names of Christ. Our Christmas tree is decorated with ribbon that reads: Lamb of God; Good Shepherd, Prince of Peace, Son of Man, Bread of Life, Holy One, Savior; Advocate; Beloved Son; Messiah, Deliverer; and Wonderful. This year, I ordered authentic olive wood ornaments handmade in Bethlehem, too.

Listen to Christmas hymns and Christmas songs that remind you of Christ’s birth. Some of my favorites are “Silent Night,” “Hark, the Herald Angels Sing,” “Mary, Did You Know?,” “What Child Is This,” “Joy to The World,” and “Away in a Manger.” We also go caroling around our neighborhood and the girls put together a Christmas show with music and the spoken word.

Give meaningful gifts by focusing on the impact and meaning of the gift. You can volunteer your time helping our homeless brothers and sisters (because even Mary and Joseph were denied shelter at the Inn), visiting the elderly, or helping further a good cause in your local community.

We only unwrap our baby Jesus from our main nativity, go serve someone and carol, and skip the presents for one another. You may think your kids will die if you don’t get them anything for Christmas, but no gift may just be the best gift of all. You can also encourage your family members to make gifts, which will require putting their critical thinking and creativity to good use.

Why the Christmas tree if we don’t do presents? I do place wrapped boxes around our Christmas tree with words: joy, forgiveness, cheer, unity, compassion, peace, patience, gratitude, time, support, connection, and love to signify our presents to Jesus Christ so we are blessed by His presence.

Free Community Nativity display in Carrollton, Texas during the Christmas Season

Create Christmas rituals that are fun for your family. It’s been proven that experiences are better than things in making the season memorable for the kids. We read Luke 2 together and often will reenact the story of Christmas by using sheets and blankets as costumes.

The littler ones can watch the Why Do We Call It Christmas? DVD or A Charlie Brown Christmas to remember the true meaning of Christmas or play with the Dover Nativity Sticker Activity Book to keep entertained, too!

Eliana loves to read The Story of Christmas, which is not exactly an accurate account of the Christmas story but the alterations have been done for the sake of diversity and inclusion, so I’m all for that. 

To make it extra fun, we we always make a Christmas craft, and this year we’re going to attempt a Nativity gingerbread house. Wish me luck, the girls don’t need it. They may also bake a “Happy Birthday, Jesus” cake, since Eliana is old enough to appreciate it and we haven’t done that in a while.

Another new thing I’m implementing this year is to make a Christmas [prayer] List. My daughters get asked a lot “have you written your Christmas List yet?” so this will give them an opportunity to say “Yes” when they don’t feel comfortable explaining the “we don’t do presents” ordeal. It’s hard when some people can get judgy and cringey, but it can be a natural reaction when exposed to something different and peculiar that challenges their beliefs. I’m also going to write some thank notes to leave in the mailboxes of homes that display a nativity in their yard – why not?

The most important way to keep Christ in Christmas is to have a Christ-like heart; but if you can use any of our ideas to create tangible reminders around you that, though you can now spell Christmas without Christ, without Christ there would be no Christmas. I actually have a nativity sticker on my car all-year-round, because I’m intense like that.

Can you think of other purposeful ways to make Christ the center of Christmas? Share how you or someone you know spreads Christmas cheer!

The Community Nativity - Carrollton Stake Texas

For more information about the Carrollton Community Nativity or for a schedule of performances, visit thecommunitynativity.com or follow on Facebook.


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