Saturday, December 17, 2011

Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas

When JET was a baby I sat nursing him in the glow of the Christmas tree lights at midnight on Christmas Eve. I loved having a baby and felt close to Mary and her baby. As I looked at the tree with its lights and baubles I wondered "What does a green tree and lights and shiny baubles have to do with the birth of the Savior?" I couldn't answer except to say "nothing." I pondered for months on what would be a better symbol of the birth of Jesus Christ. Finally the light came on in my brain and out popped the answer: A manger and a baby doll. While visiting my parents that summer (1994) I was able to leave the children with someone responsible and make a trip to the toy store alone where I found the perfect little newborn baby doll. In the fall we moved from Washington state to Virginia and just before Christmas I had my husband build a manger for me. I couldn't draw what I wanted so he put together what he thought I wanted and when I saw it I said "It's just fine, dear." (He built another, much nicer one in Utah.) Our children were five, three and sixteen months that Christmas and the older two enacted and re-enacted the Christmas story all through December and into January. We didn't have a Christmas tree that year as I wanted to keep the focus on Christ and not telling the toddler NO NO NO.

The peace I felt that Christmas convinced me that I was onto something great. For a while we alternated not having a tree and having one according to whether we had a toddler or not. I noticed during the years we had a tree that the manger with Jesus in it was pushed to the back and the children were much more me-centered and contentious. During the years we had only the manger the children were sweeter and more service minded. Finally one year we had a tree and the fighting during just the decorating of it was more than I could tolerate so I decided to forego trees in the future.

Now don't get me wrong, I love Christmas trees, but in our home it caused contention and I realized that after I had spent so much time pondering and then getting my answer that I should follow what was personal revelation for our family. As much as I love Christmas trees I can do without them; I can't do without my manger and baby Jesus.

I truly love my Savior and am so grateful for his condescension in coming to earth. Seeing the sweet baby in the manger reminds me of several truths:

  1. I must humble myself as a little child to enter the kingdom of heaven.
  2. When I give a gift it is as if I'm giving to Jesus
  3. He sees me at all times
  4. He lived a mortal life and knows my pains and sorrows, along with my joys and triumphs
Last year Noble begged for a tree, saying it didn't feel like Christmas without one. I consented and found that now the children are older they can handle it. I believe all the training has paid off. We bought a little tree that allows room for the manger to be central to our decorations.

So, however it is that you celebrate, I hope you'll keep Jesus at the center of your heart if not your room too.

Our sweet baby Jesus

Nativity Tree Skirt 

Some of our homemade, handmade ornaments

The whole picture
We love giving gifts to each other and remind our children that "Inasmuch as ye have done unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me." Matthew 25:40

Happy Birthday Jesus!


  1. Great post! I think that this might have to be at home next Christmas. I do not have a toddler anymore, but I agree that the hearts of children need the "reminder" about the season of Christmas. Thanks!

  2. What a great idea; I like it. I'll start keeping my eyes open for a baby doll that strikes me.