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Christmas 1978 (Me, Mom and my brother Greg)

As Christmas approaches, I’m so excited to participate in the  Christmas Blog Tour hosted by Blogs by Christian Women (BCW). If you’d like to follow along, the next stop on our tour is at Niki Roberts blog on 12/7.

Blessings, Rebecca

Tumbleweeds

Family traditions were important to my Mother. She was one of nine children who grew up in a family steeped in rituals. She hoped to create her own family traditions which she did despite my parents divorce when I was six-years-old.

At times, she held two jobs or sold catalog products to make ends meet. We had a roof over our heads, food in our bellies and clothes on our backs. For that  I am forever grateful.

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My Mom, Georgia

The first year was especially tough. I remember going to the grocery store to purchase groceries with food stamps. I pondered in my heart why we didn’t use cash like other families.

Next to Easter, my Mom’s favorite holiday was Christmas. She loved the celebration of the birth of our Savior Jesus and wrapping presents.

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We lived in an apartment complex. One day, while walking past my neighbor’s door, their tree lights shimmered and the scent of fresh pine filled the air. I ran home, “When can we get a tree, Mom?”

“Next weekend,” she said.

I was so excited that I could barely contain myself.

That Saturday, we jumped in our Plymouth Belvedere and drove to nearby railroad tracks. We hopped out and started walking, “Where are we going?”

“We’re hunting for a Christmas tree sweetheart.” She grabbed a scraggly bush, “Here’s one. Help me find two more Becky.”

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I asked her, “What’s that in your hand?”

“It’s a tumbleweed,” she replied.

Suddenly, a gust of wind blew several more past me and I ran as fast as I could to catch them.

When we arrived home, she stacked one on top of the other and spray painted them gold. Sparkly!

“There, all done,” she said.

Afterwards, we popped some corn and carefully placed each kernel on a string. Before long, we had our first handmade decoration.

That night, as I laid in bed , I heard her sobbing. I crept into her room, “What’s the matter Mama?”

“Nothing Honey. I’m just a little sad; that’s all. You see, I want to get you and your brother some Christmas gifts this year, but I don’t have a lot of money.”

“It’s okay Mom. We don’t need anything. Please don’t cry.”

Two weeks later, Christmas arrived. To my surprise, there were beautifully wrapped boxes under our tree. “Eeee! Did Santa bring us all these presents,” I squealed.

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“Yes, he did,” she beamed.

I gingerly opened the first one, savoring each tare of the pretty paper,  “I’ve always wanted this record!” Next, came a Shirley Temple color book and sharp new crayons. Then, a pair of rainbow colored socks. Finally, a tin of delicious Almond Roca candy.

I later discovered she worked overtime to purchase our gifts. That Christmas, my Mom taught me a valuable lesson of sacraficial love.

A few years ago, my husband and I found ourselves in a similar situation unable to buy a Christmas tree for our two young children.

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Randy, Rebecca, Austin and Alicia Christmas 2010

Two weeks before Christmas a friend from church, asked, “Did you get your Christmas tree yet?”

Sheepishly, I said, “Not yet. We can’t afford one.”

The following day, Lynda showed up at our home with a brand new six foot artificial tree. “Now, you’ll always have a tree for your kids.”

My voice cracked, “I don’t know what to say. Thank you so much.”

Christmas arrived and our children ran to see our tree just like I did when I was a child. They looked at their presents and were astonished,  “Wow! Did Santa give us all these gifts?”

“Yes, he did,” I said beaming.

Christmas is a very special holiday season. I’d love to hear about your favorite family traditions. Feel free to comment below.

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Guest Blog by Marilee Woodfield/Book Review

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I was asked to review my guest blogger Marilee Woodfield’s latest book The 12-Day Nativity. Its timing is impeccable since Christmas is just around the corner.

In it, she shares some great ideas, scriptures, and songs to celebrate the twelve days leading up to Christmas together as a family. She shares adorable graphics depicting the nativity scene. Included are fun cut-outs and journal pages to use with your children. Marilee winds down her book by summarizing international nativity traditions. This year, my family’s nativity tradition will look a little different  as a result of The 12 Day Nativity.

Disclaimer: No compensation was received for this book review; just passing on a Good Read.

Marilee Woodfield is an author, blogger, early childhood educator, and cake decorator. You can find her preschool music work at kids-and-music.blogspot.com her fantastical cake creations at frostedinsanity.com and her several teacher resource books as well as her latest book The 12-Day Nativity on amazon.com, and at her blog 12daynativity.com which is dedicated to “all things nativity”. She and her family live in Carrollton, Texas. You can follow her on Pinterest and/or Facebook. Please welcome Marilee!

Blessings, Rebecca

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The Family Nativity

Excerpted from the 12-Day Nativity: Christmas Activities for a Christ-Centered Home, (Cedar Fort Publishing, 2015)

As a child I remember my family having one nativity set that was displayed each year.  It was a simple white set made of plaster, and the stable was built out of scrap wood and leftover paneling from our 1970’s chic basement.  The set always sat perched on top of the piano, surrounded by twinkle lights covered with angel hair (a spun-glass product that is hair-like and white-translucent).  The figures were not heavy, and it was always a challenge to find a spot where they would stand up in between the lights and angel hair.  Over the years our family nativity grew in “character” as heads were broken off and re-glued, and delicate features became worn with use.  The shepherds and wise men were referred to as the “German shepherds” and “wise guys”.  My sister affectionately labeled the sheep as “cheats” before she could pronounce them otherwise.  I was more concerned about the naked baby Jesus, and exasperated my mother as every time she passed the nativity she would find a dirty old rag or handkerchief covering the baby Jesus.  When she finally discovered the responsible party, I explained that I thought the baby Jesus must be cold.

Somehow, the family’s nativity set ended up at the home of one of by brothers, and was saved from the Goodwill pile by my sister-in-law who knew I had begun collecting nativities.  It had come to them as a “white elephant” gift exchange between siblings a few years prior, and it had been abandoned on a basement storage shelf for a few years.  The stable is warped, and I have to re-set the nails every year.  The figures have been broken and re-glued many times, leaving one to wonder what horrific tale of carnage they would tell.  It is by no means the most beautiful nativity in our home, but it is one of my favorites.  First as a symbol of happy Christmases past, and also because it reminds me of my relationship with the Savior – broken and fixed many times over, warped, not pretty, but loved and beloved just the same.

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Do you have a family nativity for your home?  If not, find a favorite and pick a special spot to display it.  If you have small children, you may want to consider a set that will withstand sticky hands and a few bumps and bruises. There are lots of ways to celebrate the Nativity this season, The 12 Day Nativity has lots of suggestions for getting you started with your family nativity.

Giveaway!

Now it’s your turn to read The 12 Day Nativity as we’re giving away a FREE copy. I’d love to hear from you on how you celebrate Christmas with your children. Simply share a family tradition with us by commenting below. Your name will then be placed in a random drawing.

On October 30, 2015, we will randomly select a winner. The winner must supply his/her mailing address to us no later than November 3, 2015. One Free copy will then be shipped directly to the winner’s address provided.