Every year it's our family goal to quietly reflect on the true significance of Christmas during the preparation time of Advent. We have a few traditions to make more of an impact on the children of what a momentous event Christ's birth meant for all of history. Some of the favorite activities we did were so simple, though already Emily asks when we can do them again. For example, a simple countdown paper chain made of purple and pink strips added to our evening Advent prayer time. We have a small advent calendar, light our advent wreath candles, say a prayer, and sing "Oh Come oh Come Emmanuel". The kids get a bell and ring their little hearts out when singing the words REJOICE! They love it. We also have a stocking hung for Jesus in which the kids can give him presents--little love notes or treasures or mommy will write one of their sacrifices down and stuff it inside.
This year we were invited to do something a bit different for Christmas. We drove out to the tiny Texan to attend "Main Street Bethlehem" with a couple family friends. The town sets up a beautiful model of what Bethlehem looked like the day Christ was born. Volunteers from the city (of all different faiths!) dress up and reinact the town. It truly felt as if you walked into a time warp. As we moved through the small town, we saw how the people 2000 years ago lived. There were people in costume gathered around the fire cooking their dinner. Many praying and studying in the synagogue. Kids running around announcing the Messiah had been born. Tax collectors making a scene and dragging people off to jail. Jewlery makers, candle makers, market workers, and even a couple of camels. No one last-minute shopping for presents or stressing about decorations or complaining about visiting inlaws. Although it was packed, the crowd was so peaceful and respectful. They were there to see our the true meaning of Christmas.
There was quite a line. We were freezing and snuggling.
Emily loves her Nana!
We played games and ate popcorn to pass the time. (Leo loves the big boys!)
We finally made it inside to the first room and were taught how to make candles by alternating dipping a long cord into hot wax and water. Such patience and grace these ladies presented!
The townspeople were bursting with excitement that the Messiah had been born.
When we asked this carpenter if he had known Joseph, he replied in a thick Texan accent "y'all just mosey on 'round the corner and take a gander at 'there star." We had a good laugh.
We followed the star, saw the manger, and were blown away. There were thousands of people here, but it was silent. We had found the diamond in the ruff. Jesus, born in muck, next to stinky and loud donkeys, in scratchy hay, was beautiful.