This past week we started something that may become one of our new traditions. I decided early in the month that we would act out the nativity as a family. The boys loved this idea and as the days went by, Oliver faithfully reminded me we still needed to do the "activity" (his word for nativity). This month was packed for us, and when the projects were finally done (we'll share more about those soon!) I finally looked ahead at the week of Christmas and planned a night to do the nativity together.
This past Tuesday was the night! I had the boys help me put costumes together, I printed a short narrative I found online and we acted out the story of old (that never gets old) that we have read about so many times in the Bible.
I am so thankful that Jonah is a gifted improvisor/actor. He went from Joseph, to a camel, to an innkeeper and to various other characters, without even flinching. He makes me laugh so much! His acting abilities are superb! The boys were little shepherds in their bathrobes + toweled heads and their staffs were a cane and a stick. Aleksandr's costume was complete with dinosaur feet from his earlier attire in the day (the life of a 3-year old). They swapped their shepherd gear for wise men robes (blankets) later, and after it was all said and done, it was one of the best memories I have from the holidays.
There was no audience to act for, just us four going through the story together. There was no rehearsal, or memorization, we just gathered our costumes and went through the story, following along from the short narrative I had printed. I took my place as Mary beside Joseph, and we traveled to the manger. I stayed there with the "baby" Jesus (one of Oliver's toy friends) and awaited the arrival of the shepherds.
I loved watching our smiling little shepherds march towards me, complete in their costumes and large shepherd staffs. Living in the story was so much different from reading it. I feel like it became a little more alive that night as we clumsily made our way through the narrative with two little boys saying their parts along with us. In some ways this was a more meaningful way to read through the story of Jesus birth, because we were involved in it, and in turn it seemed to sink a little deeper into our hearts and minds.
Later that evening when we were preparing for bed Oliver quietly shared with me that he thought it was really neat. I agreed and his last response to me was this: "This is the best Christmas ever!"
I love that the night included no gift giving, movie watching, or treats (well maybe there were some m&m's along the way) to make his heart so delighted. He was a part of the story, and that was enough.
Investing time to make the story of Jesus' birth come alive to our boys was the greatest way to celebrate Jesus.
And next year I hope we do it all over again.