When I was growing up, there was an old creche that my mom would get out every year. I can't remember (maybe Matt or Shannon do) but it seems to me that it was only one piece with all of the character stuck. It was never a very prominent part of our holiday decor.
I am trying to raise my kids a little differently.
It is so hard for young children to NOT focus on the present aspect of Christmas. Truly, it's hard for all of us to not lose our perspective.
Many years ago (I don't even know how many), my step mom started building our family Nativity with a wonderful Fontanini set. I believe she started with the holy family the first year, followed by the barn the next. Each year it is fun to imagine which pieces will be added. I always encourage the boys to help when we get it out each year so we can talk about the story as it comes out.
But I wondered if this activity was enough to really help them see how important that particular story is to this holiday.
The answer came when I got out our Christmas bins to start decorating a couple of weeks ago.
Here are some of the things I found:
Here is the Fontanini set. This was in 2004 and the first year we let Noah interact with the pieces. It was my favorite all around picture for a LONG time.
I think this is the year that the fire truck got pulled up to the barn and put out a fire set by the dinosaurs, but I didn't keep the pictures. Gotta love Daddy's imagination.
Aaron "making a parade" with all the characters.
Here it is AFTER Noah set it up this year.
Notice Baby Jesus is gone. He won't be here until December 25th.
The Four Wise Men (somehow we ended up with a duplicate for the second time) haven't reached the stable yet.
Aaron says we need more animals.
I often hear people tell me that I shouldn't
allow the kids to "play" with the Nativity. I personally believe that the more the kids interact with the story, the more real it will become for them.
But I still broke down last year and bought a "Toy" nativity set made by Little People. It is such a neat set and even plays music.
Noah set it up so that the "Wise Men need to look at the Baby Jesus"
Has anyone heard the story of the Giant Monster Cat that over took Bethlehem?
Here is Aaron playing with yet another set that my Grandma got for the boys last year. The thing I like about this one is that EACH piece is an ornament that hangs on the tree.
The first time they opened it, they played with it for over an hour last year.
And here the pieces are hanging on the tree this year.
Noah really wanted a Nativity of his own this year, so he was pretty exited when I found this kit in our Christmas stuff when I was getting it out.
We broke out the glue gun to put it together and I ended up burning my fingers TWICE, but look how happy he is to have his own. He pretty much carries it everywhere with him.
This was a one piece ornament that I found when we got the stuff out. I am not quite sure where it came from, but it is the only one-piece nativity that we have.
And of, course, a selection from the many nativity stories that come out each year. We had a pop up book of the Christmas story that we read every Christmas Eve in our home growing up. It was the only time we ever really talked about what Christmas really was.
I think Christmas Eve church drills it into the kids head pretty well, so I found a different book which I think serves our purpose better. It deals more with how Jesus and the idea of Santa Claus fit together and I think it may be the best book of bringing the spiritual and the secular together.
I highly recommend it for those of you like me that struggle with the Jesus/Santa conflict.
Of course, the story can be told both inside and out. I gave the boys the choice between our big red and green wreath flag or this one, and I was shocked that Noah decided that this should be the one to go up.
My sister runs a preschool/day care out of her home and mentioned the other day that four of her kids didn't know what a Nativity was. I don't know if it was because of different religions or because of lack of exposure. It is amazing to learn the vast differences in our homes in this country, and thank God that we have the freedom for that.
But as for me, I can comfort myself on Christmas morning when the kids are psychotically running toward their gifts, that they do know the Reason for the Season.
I hope you are all enjoying the anticipation of Christmas as much as we are.