We do love Christmas, especially the way the warm clothes, cheery music, and little manger scenes seem to soften our hearts. And, boy, do I need my heart softened right about now. So we're getting ready for Christmas around here.
No tree yet, but we do have our nativity sets out. The plastic set above (arranged in the Little People barn ala Louise) is actually pieces from two different plastic sets we've picked up at antique stores pretty cheaply. I love them because they're kitschy, and I don't have to worry about them breaking.
I also convinced John to build us this little manger this year. I saw this idea on Small Things last year and had to give it a try. We keep a jar of straw colored yarn next to the manger, and the girls get to add a piece whenever they do something kind or selfless. It's not very structured, it just sort of works spontaneously, e.g. "That was so kind of you to share your dog with your sister, June! Would you like to put some straw in the manger?" We explained to the children that just as Mary and Joseph made a soft bed for Jesus from the straw, when we are kind to others, we are softening our hearts to make room for Him, too.
It's nice that we are working together to make something beautiful, rather than being nice in order to get stuff. It's a little hokey, for sure, but it seems to be the kind of thing the girls really understand. There will (hopefully) be a baby Jesus to lay in the manger on Christmas morning, but I haven't figured out how to make him yet. I'll get back to you on that.
And finally, the girls totally talked me into buying this little ceramic nativity set at goodwill one day. It came with the cheesy homemade stable and everything. I set it up on the mantle with a felt path to count the days to Christmas. Baby Jesus is also hidden away from this set. Am I overdoing it yet?
Next week we'll do some gift making on St. Nicholas Day, bundle up with hot cocoa for our local Christmas Parade, and the girls and I are going get dressed up to see the Nutcracker. So Christmas preparations abound, and we're trying our best to make it a time of joy and love.
What are your traditions? I'm pinning ideas and loving expanding our family's traditions. Please share yours with me!