Make Jesus Stocking
There are a tremendous amount of Christmas traditions, unique to each family. Most have already thought of a Christmas Tree (symbolizing the gifts of God in the decorations, the Light of the World in the lights and the evergreen symbolizing his Love). And most people have stockings, some say it’s for Saint Nicholas (AKA Santa Claus) and for some it is just a tradition, but why not make it something more? Why not a few traditions that are not only symbolically Jesus centered but totally Jesus centered?
Many years ago, we started the tradition of a Jesus Stocking. The idea came from a speech given by the Bishop in the 1947 movie the Bishop’s Wife:
Tonight I want to tell you the story of an empty stocking. Once upon a midnight clear, there was a child’s cry. A blazing star hung over a stable and wise men came with birthday gifts. We haven’t forgotten that night down the centuries; we celebrate it with stars on Christmas trees, the sound of bells and with gifts. But especially with gifts. You give me a book; I give you a tie. Aunt Martha has always wanted an orange squeezer, and Uncle Henry could do with a new pipe. We forget nobody, adult or child. All the stockings are filled — all that is, except one. And we have even forgotten to hang it up. The stocking for the child born in a manger. It’s his birthday we are celebrating. Don’t ever let us forget that. Let us ask ourselves what he would wish for most, and then let each put in his share. Loving kindness, warm hearts and the stretched out hand of tolerance. All the shining gifts that make peace on earth.
What would Jesus want for Christmas? He already gave you His list.
For I was hungry, and you gave me food to eat. I was thirsty, and you gave me drink. I was a stranger, and you took me in. I was naked, and you clothed me. I was sick, and you visited me. I was in prison, and you came to me.’
“Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry, and feed you; or thirsty, and give you a drink? When did we see you as a stranger, and take you in; or naked, and clothe you? When did we see you sick, or in prison, and come to you?’
“The King will answer them, ‘Most certainly I tell you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ Matthew 25:35-40
You could give food to the homeless, toys for orphaned, bake cookies for prison visits, etc. Then for everything that you give baby Jesus for His birthday, write it down on a slip of paper and put it in the stocking. On Christmas morning dump it out and see what He got for Christmas.
You can make a stocking or buy one. It’s fun to get the whole family around to decorate it and talk about how each person can come up with ideas for Jesus’ Christmas gifts.
Have a Birthday Party
Another tradition you could start is a birthday party! It can be elaborate with balloons and streamers or as simple as a cake with candles and singing the Happy Birthday song. Every year you could have some member of the family pick what kind of cake Jesus should have. But be warned, Jesus often ends up with a Superhero or a Princess cake! A basic Birthday Cake recipe is in the “Christmas Recipes” post.
Most of us have a Nativity Scene, a nice one. It is usually ceramic or glass or some other very nice, very fragile, material. Most would think nothing of this but there is a slight problem. It looks like a set of toys to children and we raise our children with the story of the nativity. They want to play with it! We had two. One nice one that we keep out of reach and another that we made together out of oven bake clay to play with. This started small just key figures: Jesus, Mary and Joseph and one building, the stable. Then my son realized that there was no Bethlehem, or Roman tax takers, or camels for the Wise men, no Egypt for Jesus to go to later, no gladiatorial arena, etc, etc. Yeah, what was I thinking having a nativity without a Roman Gladiatorial Arena – silly mom. We spent a lot of time on that play set, every summer actually, but – start small and if your children think of something else from the story or the time period that should be there, add it.
Under our Christmas Tree we have an empty manger. When children want to know if it is Christmas yet, we tell them to look under the tree and see if Jesus has been born yet. On Christmas morning before they get up put the baby Jesus under the tree in the manger. You can also set a trail of small candies as a trail leading from the children’s beds to the manger.
Peace be with you.