I remember the moment vividly. It was January 1st and I’d just gotten home from dropping off the last homemade Christmas gift that was obviously late in delivery. I’d walked into the living room with full intent on putting away the tree and found my husband had already done so. With a shout of pure joy I shouted YAY! Christmas is officially DONE!! It had been a long and rough month. December is packed full of 10,000 wonderful and inspiring things to do. We have 3 family birthdays the first week and that first weekend also has the town parade (we used to try to be in or see), lighting of the town tree & visiting Santa, the Community Christmas Celebration (our Stake Nativity display of which I’ve been the Ward rep for several years), the making of the chocolate Nativity for said Celebration, Ward activities, getting in the true Spirit of Christmas, starting my shopping I’ve put off until now, getting gifts prepared for 2 (possibly more) different family parties, decorating our home, school celebrations, service, and a billion other things I just love but don’t have enough of ME to do. This year someone I care about had a situation that had nothing to do with the season but that needed my support and would end up taking weeks to calm down. My lack of Christmas Spirit was weighing on me and I tried to FORCE Christmas into the small moments I had left despite exhaustion and frustration. Truth be told. Our Christmas stunk. My kids were none the wiser but I was DONE. And then in that moment of shouting for Joy I was filled with HORROR. How could I be thankful for the best time of the year and a time to focus on Christ being OVER. Never again would I be thankful for Christmas being over and I was going to start earlier this year. How early? How about NOW. January 1st. So here, for whatever you want to use it for, I present the 12 MONTHS of Christmas!
(I’d love to say that this is all planned out and ready for you here to print off and just present at your next Family Home Evening but it’s not. I actually feel it’s too personal to just say it should be done one way and maybe what your family needs and is prompted to do is going to be far different from my family’s experiences. So, I’m presenting to you a concept and my own thoughts and notes and, if you’d like to join us in our Year Long Celebration, letting YOU run with it! Also, my ideas are very obviously full of themes that go with my faith but I pray that those of all faiths will find joy in celebrating all year with us even if their individual interpretations and activities vary from mine. Again, this is an individual activity!)
Concept: Each month focus on one part of the Nativity Scene slowly building a full Nativity that, of course, ends in Christ at Christmas! You could display a Nativity piece each month or print off digital ones like the kinds you can find here on Etsy. Online I was able to find a few similar ideas (focusing on parts of the nativity scene) that are put into the 12 days of Christmas. You can check them out here and here. I looked at the Nativity Song the kids recently sang in Primary and kind of went in that direction. You could always shuffle these around to match up with holidays from those months. We’ve been focusing on the STAR this month and if you ask me I can tell you about the amazing things that have come from it. :)
Here are the 12 we’re doing (and a fun order suggested by my amazing SIL that almost follows the story as laid out in the Scriptures!) and my thoughts on different things we can talk about each month. PLEASE share your ideas and let me know if you chose to use other items!
- star - The Spirit (following promptings), family history (searching for someone), being an example (Light within, Light of Christ, Letting our light shine that men may see our good works and glorify our Father in Heaven) Prophets/prophecy (the sign of the star was foretold) -New Year/New Star (January)
- angel - Missionary work (proclaiming the Gospel), Joy (rejoicing), Song (music, talents) Restoration (Angel Moroni) – My SIL suggested a fun play on Cupid here and the more serious thought of the Angels bringing Joy and Love (February)
- Shepherds - Christ (the great Shepherd), Missionary work (leading them home) Visiting Teaching/Home Teaching (helping and teaching others) Being watchful (safety, recognizing evil when we see it, listening to the messages we’re given, RUNNING to truth and rejoicing in it) Being Humble – (March)
- Sheep - Christ (Lamb of God) Sacrifice (giving of ourselves, callings) Ordinances (taking the sacrament) - would this be a good one for EASTER (April)
- Mary - Motherhood (helping Mothers or pregnant women) Birth (personal history, Rebirth/born again) Relief Society (women in the church, service) Marriage/family (loving your spouse, giving to our children, togetherness, love) - Mother's Day (May)
- Joseph - Fathers (hard work, step fathers - loving those who are in our lives but not of our DNA, Heavenly Father, Christ, the bishop) Service (for our Dad's, for others) Family History work (Turning our hearts to our Fathers) Patriotism (our Fore Fathers) Marriage (focusing on our spouse, putting them above ourselves) Work (working hard for a living, being honest in our taxes) Callings (doing what we’re asked when it’s hard) - Father's Day (June)
- stable - helping the less fortunate (homeless), FHE (Spirit in our Home, Love at Home - Valentines (Feb)?), Gospel principals (Building a firm foundation) Temple (temple worship, House of the Lord) Organization/Cleanliness – Freedom/Home (July)
- Manger/Hay - Preparedness/food (emergency preparedness, food storage, warmth of the Spirit, Word of Wisdom), Scriptures (feast up on the Word) – you could add Swaddling Clothes here and/or do it later. It kind of goes with the theme. – (August)
- Cattle/Oxen (camel/donkey) - Work (service, around our home, appreciating the value of work) Animals (creation, service at animal shelter, caring for them, appreciating them) Companionship (friendship, warmth, giving) – (September)
- 3 Wise men - Education (learn something new, what is Wisdom?) Travel (going the extra mile, learning about other people in other places or how we are different yet the same) Holy Spirit (following the Spirit, recognizing promptings) Personal study (spiritual preparedness, they were versed in the scriptures and knew the signs to look for and followed them) Heeding warnings (patriarchal blessings, following the Spirit, trusting church leaders) Faith (Faith in Action) – (October)
- Gold/Frankincense/Myrrh - Gifts (Gift of the Holy Ghost, Gifts of the Spirit, Golden Plates, give of ourselves, thank yous for the gifts we've been given spiritually and physically from others, work on Christmas presents, evaluate the kinds of gifts we give) Finances (tithing, budgeting) – focusing on Gifts/gratitude for Thanksgiving (November)
- Christ - no description needed (December)
So, these are literally my quick notes I jotted down as they came to me and there’s probably some obvious ones I’ve missed or some big meanings that will strike me later (or that you’ll share with me PRETTY PLEASE). Again, I think this is a personal activity and my ideas may be far from the way you do it. You may want to study the historical sides of these items or find scriptures that go with each and stories. So far we’ve been going on promptings and ideas that come to us in the moment and then trying to recognize the things that are relevant as they cross out path. (We had 2 songs in Sacrament meeting this week that had to do with Light and even the Star and have had multiple experiences this month that tied directly to LIGHT and the idea of the Star so amazingly well that I know it was inspired. No lie, at one moment when I was recognizing such a connection Twinkle Twinkle Little Star started playing on the TV (it was sung by monkeys but it was well timed none the less!). Maybe you’ll do Family Home Evenings about it or maybe you’ll just contemplate it’s meaning yourself but my hope is that our family (and yours) will be much better off this coming Christmas season because we’ve done all that we were meant to do all throughout the year and instead of trying to force it all into one month we will already have the Spirit of CHRISTmas with us as we start off and all will be well.
After all, He’s not just the reason for “the Season”! and I can now say YAY! Christmas is NEVER over!!