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The day of Thanksgiving we put away all of our d?cor for the fall season that evening. And then we start pulling out all of our Christmas decorations and get to work, like wrapping greenery and white lights around the staircase. We get our Nativity scene out of storage, and it sits on the counter in our kitchen -- and that is our highlight of the evening. We'll gather around reading the Christmas story as a family.
We open up the Bible, and we start reading the account of Christ's birth. The children try to visualize in their mind what the first Christmas was like. We talk about what it would've been like for Mary and Joseph -- how Mary didn't get to have her baby in a place where she was prepared and ready.
We go into the details around the birth of Christ -- the atmosphere in Bethlehem -- just talking about what they went through to bring forth the Savior. It's such an amazing story to us, and so recounting it and encouraging the kids to talk about it and ask questions is important to us. Of course the little ones always have tons of questions. The older ones have already asked all of them, so it's of fun for them to get to watch the little ones ask the same ones and help answer questions for them.
It's just really a sweet time of family fellowship, talking and thinking about that first Christmas. Our whole family traveled to Israel this year, and it was especially helpful in giving us even more of a context for the first Christmas. It's just amazing having more of a three-dimensional idea of the Scriptures now.
The older ones talked about Israel a lot -- the terrain, the travel. And then the little ones would chime in about Mary and Joseph traveling on the back of a donkey and say, "Well, why didn't they ride a camel?" We'd explain, "They didn't have that much money, and camels were a lot more expensive than a donkey." It's just been a richer time of talking about the first Christmas because of the experiences that we were able to have in Israel.
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