December is the busiest and most distracting season of the year. People are preoccupied with shopping, parties, and long lists of things to do; I know I am. In all of the rush, how can we prepare our hearts for the coming of Christ? One Advent tradition that we have made just might help your family focus on the Christmas story during Advent.

“This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” – Luke 2:12

When my boys were little, it was so hard to decorate with beautiful blown glass ornaments, crystal crosses for the tree and ceramic figurines of Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus that just beckoned little hands to touch, grab and then break. UGH!

Reading the Christmas story to the boys was a family tradition and each time we read it to them they then wanted to go grab all the ceramic figurines out of the nativity crèche and play with them…then break them…again UGH!

Since the Nativity figurines were so tempting, I found soft fabric ones for them to play with when they were little and they we moved on to plastic ones. Every year as they grew they had their own Nativity set to play with and they could begin to play with the characters of this wonderful story of Jesus’ birth. I would find baby Jesus left in the bathroom after brushing teeth or cows and donkeys under pillows on the couch. The best was finding the wise men in the crisper drawer after small hands grabbed an apple and left the poor wise men to wander in the cold of our Whirlpool fridge. As the boys got older and outgrew plastic action figures, we found a nativity that had all the characters attached along with a red button that once pressed began to narrate the story, “When Jesus was born in Bethlehem there came three wise men saying, we have followed his star in the east, “we three kings of orient are bearing gifts we traverse afar.” While shepherds were guarding their flocks at night the land suddenly became bright with God’s glory, an angel told them this is the most joyous news ever announced, the Savior the Messiah has just been born in Bethlehem (it goes on to tell more of the story, but I’ll stop here). Today, taking this nativity out of the box is one of the boys’ favorite events. Each Sunday during Advent and even on random days during the Christmas season it brings a smile to my face when I can faintly hear the story playing because one of them has pushed the button to hear the story of Jesus’s birth, no matter how old they become. I encourage you to find a tradition that helps you prepare your hearts for the coming Messiah.