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Deepen the spirit that fills your heart and home this holiday season when you discover the meaning behind seven gifts of Christmas, each celebrated with an invitation from the scriptures and a simple tradition.
Each gift is based on a figure in a Nativity set, and the traditions can easily be combined with things you already do. This year as you prepare your home for the season, resolve to prepare your heart in a way that will lead you closer to Christ.
Table of contents:
The Wise Men
The Christ Child
- Size: 5x7
- Pages: 96
- Published: 2010
About the Author
Emily Freeman took her first creative writing class in high school and has loved writing ever since. She finds great joy in studying the life and teachings of Jesus Christ. Her deep love of the scriptures comes from a desire to find their application in everyday life. She is the author of several books, including The Ten Virgins; 21 Days Closer to Christ; and The Promise of Enough. There is nothing Emily enjoys more for breakfast than a bowl of vanilla ice cream, raspberries, and chocolate chips. Other favorites include parades, vacations, firework displays, and going for a long walk with a good friend. Emily and her husband, Greg, live in Lehi, Utah, with their four children, whom she adores.
December had come. The house was decorated, most of the presents bought, and Megan and I were driving in the car listening to Christmas carols. Strapped into her car seat and bundles up in her winter coat, Megan did her best to sing along. Then, just as one song ended and another began, Megan said one simple sentence that forever changed the way our family celebrates Christmas. “Mom,” she began, “I believe in Santa Claus, and you believe in Jesus Christ.”
It was a moment of epiphany. I thought back over all of our holiday preparations and the experience we had created for our children. We had written letters to Santa, had talked about being good for Santa, and had counted down the days until Santa would come. We had spent the majority of the season teaching our children to believe in the reality of Santa Claus, and because of our efforts they trusted that he really would come. But suddenly I realized that we had not spend the same amount of time teaching them to believe in the reality of the Savior. I thought over all of the traditions that filled our holiday season and realized that none of them strengthened my children’s belief in Jesus Christ.
Since that moment, our home has been transformed into a home that believes. Not only in the magic of Santa, but also in the reality of our Savior, Jesus Christ, who is the true reason behind our celebration. The symbols of Christmas that fill our home throughout the holidays include images that are familiar to all of us – evergreen wreaths, stockings hung by the fire, candy canes, and the magical sound of a bell that still rings. But there is one decoration that has become a family favorite. As the season begins, we place a wooden stable in the center of our family room table. It sits empty, waiting patiently for our Christmas celebrations to begin.
Over the years we have added seven nativity traditions to our holiday celebrations. Inspired from each figure in the nativity set, these traditions have deepened the Christmas spirit that fills our home. Between Thanksgiving and Christmas we set aside seven specific evenings – one for each figure in the nativity. On that evening we spend time learning about the important role that person played in the miracles that surrounded Christ’s birth. Then we participate in a simple tradition that reminds us what we can learn from that person’s experience. Each of the figures has a story to tell, and each has a lesson to share. Studying their experiences has given our family a greater understanding and a deeper appreciation for the miracles that surround the birth of Christ.
At the end of the evening, after the tradition has been completed, one person from our family is chosen to add the figurine we studied to our nativity scene. Week by week we begin to fill the waiting stable, one figure at a time, until finally the nativity is complete. In the weeks that lead up to Christmas, my children love to watch the nativity come together, almost like an advent counting down to Christmas, and I have noticed that something magical begins to happen: as each figure takes its place within the stable, our hearts are drawn closer to Christ. The Christ child is always last, placed carefully in the center of the creche on Christmas morning before we open our gifts.
Within the pages of this book you will discover the lessons and traditions associated with each of the figures in the nativity. The simple traditions that accompany these figures will give you an opportunity to escape fro the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season just for a moment as you spend time reflecting on the Savior and the miracle of His birth. You might choose to do these traditions in seven days, or you might start on the Monday before Thanksgiving and do the traditions for seven weeks. The order of the traditions and the length of time between each one is left completely to your inspiration. Invite anyone you choose to celebrate these moments with you. The stories and traditions are appropriate for any age and families of any size.
The purpose of this book is not to add something more to an already packed holiday season – it is to add something different. The traditions within this book are simple, and you may find that you can combine them with something you already do. Or, maybe you would like to replace one of your current traditions with one that you find in this book. Just as you prepare your home for the holidays, perhaps this year you could take some time to prepare your heart. You might find it helpful to set aside a quiet moment to read through this book before your Christmas celebrations begin. Perhaps you would like to highlight certain passages to share aloud on the evening you celebrate each tradition. As you read you will quickly discover that the chapters of this book can be done in any order – this will allow you to decide what will work best for your circumstances.
This is the season of anticipation and celebration, and hopefully you will let those two emotions become the guiding principles for your holiday experience: anticipation for a Christmas filled with the Spirit of Christ, and celebration in honor of the miracle of His birth.
May this holiday season be one of your fondest in recent years, and may your heart be filled with the Christmas spirit that only He can bring.
Inspiring and touching from cover to cover
by Jill - reviewed on November 26, 2010
I read this book in a couple of sittings. Each time I was touched by Freeman's style of writing. I felt the spirit move me to higher grounds and aspirations for my holiday season's plans. I highly recommend this book and I think it would make a perfect gift. I would also recommend Freeman's 21 Days Closer to Christ it motivated me in the same way with the power of the spirit and it changed my life, too.
Thoughtful and simple
by Heather - reviewed on December 16, 2010
This book came right on time for me this year. So often in the hustle and bustle to buy presents and prepare for family gatherings I feel I lose the Christmas Spirit. More important than long wish lists and Santa Claus is the true meaning behind the holiday. A Christ Centered Christmas takes each nativity piece and centers a story and activity around that figure. The chapters are small but thought provoking. Also included are recipes for yummy Holiday treats like hot cocoa and candy cane cookies. Next year we plan on having one lesson each week for seven weeks to correspond with the chapters in the book. A Christ Centered Christmas would be a great gift for those you love as it invites all to feel and learn the real lessons behind the symbols we so often see this time of year...the bell, the star, the shepard's crook. It's message is simple but powerful. Thank you Deseret Book for sharing this little gem with us.
Great Christmas resource for famlies
by Customer - reviewed on November 10, 2010
A great collection for all families at Christmas time. Perfect for families establishing (or re-establishing) Christmas traditions for children and adults alike.
A Wonderful Read
by Cherri - reviewed on November 28, 2010
Just finished this book and loved every minute. I will definitely add some of these suggestions to our traditions and pass them on. Beautiful writing and stories. Keep the tissues handy.
by Customer - reviewed on November 10, 2010
This is something I'll use each Christmas with my family, not something to just put on the shelf. Makes a great gift too.
by Dena - reviewed on November 02, 2010
Freeman offers us an opportunity to explore traditions that help us focus on Christ during the holiday season. My favorite part of the book is the end of each section. A short outline for how to incorporate that tradition into an activity is given. Songs you can sing, scriptures you can read, and activities that help to invite the spirit and remind us of Christ and Christ-like attributes. A great resource for Family Home Evening ideas.