Yesterday our family braved the mall–the Saturday before Christmas. Our annual tradition of shopping as a family and purchasing gifts for each other was a great day. After a quick pow wow to share ideas (small ones for the siblings to get each other) we split off into pairs to shop, texting each other with updates and location status throughout the afternoon. There were tremendous crowds, long lines, returns as we realized we duplicated gifts, and more lines. There was Christmas music, food, and beautiful decorations everywhere. The air was filled with a buzzing of excitement. We came home tired but successful on our mission–and as a mom, happy to see the kids scheme and strategize to get the perfect gift for each other.
Yet, it is not the full picture of Christmas. There is a deeper river of meaning that flows through the season–one that easily might be missed as the 25th quickly approaches. Which is why tonight, our family once again gathered to do something together this season, but something a little more serious, a little more, holy.
With the lights turned down, and candles lit, we invited our children and our oldest daughter’s boyfriend, Isaac, to join us in The Stations of The Christmas Story. This is similar to “Stations of the Cross” but with a Christmas theme. We moved throughout 7 stations, reading the Christmas Story in Luke and Matthew, and the kids writing responses in a journal we gave them. At a couple of stations a song was played, at some, just discussion and not writing. My hope was to bring the story of Jesus’s birth into a more tangible form, something our family could take with us going forward, hoping to silence just a bit the wants and wishes and commercialism of the season.
We had a great discussion about angels (a theme that runs through the story) and tried to put ourselves in Mary and Joseph’s shoes as they traveled this journey together. We listened and shared and did a little bribing with ice cream if everyone hung in there for the duration!
Here are the documents I created for the night. Please feel free to print out and use, or tweak for your own taste if you want to try this with your family. (When you click on link, it will take you to another page that you will need to click the link a second time).
The inside of the journal is not quite lined up right–you’ll see if you print it out. Just cut down the middle and line up inside the journal cover.
PLEASE don’t feel like you need to squeeze this in in the next few days before Christmas in order to complete the Christmas experience for your kids! Maybe file it away for next year, and just read the Christmas story together.
Tips for the experience:
Dim the lights to create a nighttime scene–the candles are a great effect.
Set up 7 candle lit stations around the house, ending in a manger scene if you have one.
Move from station to station as a group. The leader guide (first document) is helpful for the adult leading the group. The group members carry their journals around with them.
Ask each child to have a bible with them–they can take turns reading the scripture.
For younger children:
Take out 2-3 of the stations for attention span. You can re word the questions for age-appropriateness.