Quite clearly, there is absolutely nothing wrong with celebrating Christmas and celebrating it well. Jesus Himself ate well and food features time and again in the gospels. He said the bridegroom's friends should celebrate while he is with them and who could beat the super duper party at Cana thanks to the six pots, each containing between 16 and 24 gallons of top quality wine courtesy of Jesus? Nobody...that's who!
So it is right to celebrate but what a sad pity if we arrive at Christmas with our houses scrubbed and adorned, our cupboards full, presents wrapped and bank account cleaned out and we haven't even cast a passing thought or an iota of effort to prepare our hearts and souls for this Child.
So maybe this year we can change that and set a little bit of our preparations aside for Him.
Here are some really worthwhile things we could either give as gifts or invest in for ourselves that might help make Christmas more meaningful for us and our children or loved ones.
What Child Is This?
I have seen these beautiful statues of Baby Jesus venerated at Christmas in different places. I think it is just a beautiful idea to have in any home, the baby can be placed in a special place on a cushion or straw crib prepared by children and the little ones (and not so little) can privately outpour all the love, thanks and kisses they naturally hold for this precious child over Christmas. All sorts of family and national traditions can be incorporated using the statue.
I have not seen these statues in any actual shop outside of Rome, where they can be easily purchased in any shape, size or price you so choose. However they are easily bought online and there are lots available to suit your home and pocket. This year I also bought a tiny plastic (but pretty) baby Jesus figure for each of our children to place in their school pencil cases over Advent. I have told them that each time they open their pencil case and glimpse the baby to use it as a reminder to say a little prayer or work a little harder and offer that to Jesus as part of their Christmas preparation. Time will reveal whether it works.
Fontanini Nativity Scenes
Home Christmas Nativity scenes are an old and beautiful tradition in many countries. Certainly there are very few Catholics who don't have fond childhood memories of placing pieces of straw, representing good deeds, along with little letters into the crib. The crib has probably lost popularity in this last generation as it was packed away into the far corners of attics to make way for the sparkling lights and baubles of the 'Holiday' season. Maybe it's not too late to revive this lovely devotional tradition. One of the nicest collections I have come across are those made by the famous Italian company Fontanini.
The lovely thing about Fontanini cribs (or Crèches as our US friends say) is that they can be added to year after year. They manufacture figures and accessories of everything that could possibly be found in that little town of Bethlehem around the time of the first Christmas. Over time an ever increasing scene can be reproduced. In fact there are competitions held every year for the best scene and there are people who dedicate huge areas of their homes, Church halls etc and lots of imagination to representing practically all of the Holy Land with the Fontanini pieces. Obviously that is for enthusiasts but any home could build up a collection which would be great fun and really add to the Spitit of Christmas. I am so sorry I didn't start collecting Fontaninis when I got married. They are inexpensive and made of resin and so don't need to be out of reach of little hands.
I think a starter set of these figures would be a great and inexpensive gift for a newly-wed couple, a godchild, or anyone in fact.
The Miracle Maker
Finally for today, although this isn't necessarily related to Christmas as it begins somewhere during the public life of Jesus, this movie The Miracle Maker is a real treasure. It is a stop-motion animated film using clay puppets made as a co-operative effort between UK, Russia and USA. It has been described as the best depiction of the Gospel story ever made. I have a VHS copy of the film and it really is very, very good. You may think to look at it that it was made for children but in fact, though it has a U rating, it is equally suitable for adults, maybe even more so. It is so beautifully made. The lighting, the voices, the music...everything adds up. I really recommend it.
I have just double-checked and it is now available on DVD in several languages. I promise you will watch it time and again. There are clips of it on YouTube but as I'm not sure about the legality of that, I thought it better to let you find them for yourselves. Here is the link to the trailer though:
Well I hope these ideas help you to insert a bit of the true meaning into this year's Christmas. They are only intended as starting points to set you thinking. I'm sure with a little imagination or with a little help from Google you will come up with lots of ideas or traditions you can revive or begin in your own home.
Next Up: Let The Scrubbing Begin
I'd love to hear your thoughts and ideas on my blog, what you have enjoyed so far and anything you'd like me to include so please leave a comment :-)