by Nancy Tichy, Author for KidZ at Heart International
A recent response to a previous blog entry came from a dear friend in Texas. She explained, “My two youngest grands, ages nine and eleven, will be with us at Christmas for four days. I will have them ‘interview’ Mary, Joseph, a shepherd and an angel. (I type casted the characters. My husband is the shepherd. I get to be the angel.) Then they will create the front page of a newspaper, writing a story for each and doing some artwork to go along with it. They will read the paper to us Christmas morning.”
I must admit this idea appeals to the teacher side of me. It draws on the children’s creativity and pulls them in to appreciate the dramatic aspects of Luke’s accounts. One could expand on this idea by assigning as many interviews as you have family members. To prime the pump in the beginning, you might read Luke, chapter two, at a family meeting and talk about it briefly. Use the “I wonder…” and the “Why…” questions to help your journalists explore all the sensory aspects of this story. The point is to take the familiar story that we often don’t really listen to because it is so familiar and find ways to draw children into the action and meaning.
I save the front sides of Christmas cards that come each year – the ones that illustrate the biblical accounts and have a phrase from Scripture or a bit of poetry. If you do this, too, you could ask one of the kids to help you hide some of them in a designated area of the house. That child would be the one to read something a bit longer like a Christmas poem, or some verses of a Christmas carol…the ones beyond the first verse that we’ve all probably memorized. (Some of our traditional carols proclaim clear Gospel truth.) On Christmas Eve, or before opening gifts, or before the celebratory meal, let family members hunt for hidden picture cards and read what’s printed on them, in turn, before a prayer of thanksgiving.
For older children and adults, you might ask each one to take a different character in the Christmas account and tell the story in the first person. For instance, a woman might pretend to be Mary, the mother of Jesus, and tell what happened from her point of view…adding details that Mary could have put into the account but which Luke left out. You might do this with the figurines of your crèche as you put the pieces in place. Some really inventive family members could even pretend to be a sheep on the hillside, or a donkey carrying Mary, or a Wise Man’s camel.
In 1957, Frank and I established our first home in a West African city. That year at Christmas, we had a fourteen month old daughter and a Liberian teenager (an orphan we ‘adopted’ for the school break) who made up our family. We were far away from any other family which may have left us a bit homesick, but it also gave us the freedom to create our own traditions for celebrating the Babe born in Bethlehem.
For many years on Christmas Eve our home was open to Christian friends, some Liberian and others American missionaries like us. The meal was very simple. We spent time in the Word and sang familiar Christmas carols. We celebrated communion together and shared hopes and dreams for the coming year. No exchanging gifts. That came the next morning with just us and the children. For the evening we kept the focus on Jesus.
Those were simpler times, granted, and changes in traditions have come and gone over the years. Many of us from those precious times of fellowship are in Heaven now. How glorious must be their celebrations – in God’s throne room, fully drawn in to the whole of redemption’s story. Still, I’m glad we, here, can spend a bit of time each year entering into the heart of God who sent his Son as a newborn Babe to demonstrate how much he loves us.
May the Lord draw your hearts into an ever deeper understanding of his love…2Thess.3:5a