I love the Christmas story that tells of the mortal birth of the Son of God. The Christmas season reminds us that Heavenly Father loved all of His children so much that He sent a Baby - His Only Begotten Son - to earth on a mission to save all of us. I love the description of Mary who is always depicted as young and virtuous, fair and beautiful. I honor Joseph who showed great love, courage and strength in his marriage to Mary. I am awed by the idea of a God being born in a stable. I feel the excitement of the shepherds as the angel announced the birth of Christ and understand the haste with which they traveled to the stable. I seek to find the Lord just as the wise men did when they followed the star.
There is a special place in my heart and life for the Nativity, and I enjoy collecting Nativity sets to decorate my home for the Christmas season. My favorite Nativity scene is the one enacted by my family each Christmas Eve. My husband and I started this tradition more than thirty years ago when our oldest daughters were just tiny tots and have followed the tradition faithfully since that time. I am pleased that our children are continuing this tradition in their own homes. Some of our family Nativity plays have been elaborate like the one where a roving reporter interviewed the various participants in the Christmas story. Some of them are very simple with just reading the story in Luke and Matthew as it is acted out.
Everyone in the house participates in our Nativity play in some way, whether it is someone there for the evening or someone just stopping by for a few minutes. In fact, we have sometimes had friends stop by just to take part in our Nativity play! The saddest play we did was done with just four or five people using the figures from a small Nativity set to act out the parts - but the good years make up for the poor ones.
I remember our Nativity from a couple of years ago with fondness as we had nine grandchildren as well as five children and spouses taking part in our Nativity. There were two brand new babies to play the part of Jesus. We had three little two-year old girls playing the part of the wise men, riding on the back of the camel (our oldest son who also played the part of Mary's donkey). The wise men were all crying by the time they reached King Herod. Our oldest daughter always plays the role of King Herod because she is so realistic in the role - but this time she took pity on the crying wise men. Our older grandchildren - all under the age of nine - played the parts of Mary, Joseph, the angel, and a shepherd. Adults filled helping roles - such as the fourth wise man that helped the little ones, the adults who accompanied the angel or served as shepherds as well as the inn keeper with his wife. Others took pictures and read the story from the scriptures.
Last year most of our children and grandchildren were spending Christmas with their other families. We enjoyed having our oldest daughter and her husband with us, and we also invited some friends and neighbors with children to join us for the evening. It was a pleasant evening but not the same as having my own children and grandchildren with us.
Most of our children and grandchildren will be together again for Christmas this year. We now have thirteen grandchildren and will have twelve of them with us for the Nativity. I expect that we will make more joyous memories as we initiate our newest grandchildren into our family tradition.