When we decorate our house, the night before Thanksgiving, we put everything out except baby Jesus. When the kids wake up the next morning, they look around at all the beautiful household decorations and notice that the nativity is not quite complete.
Every morning, especially for our littlest ones, we encourage the kids to run into the fireplace room and look to see if Baby Jesus has been born.
For the littlest ones, this helps them to identify when Christmas is actually here. For the rest of us, it reminds us of what the season is truly all about. It isn’t about the presents, the treats, or the activities; it is about the birth of a baby King. It is about the best gift we could ever receive… Jesus.
The nativity scene is the center of Christmas festivities. Yes, we have a tree, a decorated mantle, and lights galore, but the nativity scene is where the heart of our home truly lies. This where our day begins and where our Christmas hosting is centered.
A similar tradition to hiding baby Jesus involves the three magi. Instead of placing the magi in the manger scene, consider placing them on the other end of the room. As the days grow closer to Christmas, move your magi as well. (While, in truth, the magi were not actually present for Jesus’ birth and would not have been at the stable, this is another fun way to capture our children’s focus and point them in the right direction.) We are anticipating the arrival of the King, not presents. The magi arrive at the manger scene on Christmas day to help celebrate the birth of baby Jesus.
For a fun alternative to a ‘real’ nativity scene, consider making one! In lieu of wood and hay, consider using graham crackers, frosting, shredded coconut, and marshmallows! (Yes, I know. This sounds like a sugar comma waiting to happen, but lots of fun I assure you!) Imagine making a gingerbread house, but instead you are building a manger scene. Construct your stable out of graham cracker and use frosting for the ‘glue’. Using shredded coconut, add a few drops of yellow coloring, and make some ‘hay’ for the stable. Take a few large marshmallows, a baby marshmallow, and food pens; make Joseph, Mary, and baby Jesus. Before you know it, your nativity scene will be finished!
On Christmas morning we run out to find baby Jesus in His manger and we read the Christmas story. Only after we have truly remembered what Christmas is about, do we take down our stockings and see what blessings have been given.
This yearly tradition is a family favorite in our house! No matter how you choose to display your nativity scene, make it the focal point of your Christmas.