Christmas Memory Lane is where I love to travel back to this time of year. It's not that I don't love Christmas in the moment, I do. But drawing from a well full of joy from my childhood enhances my Christmas experience today. So, as the countdown to Christmas begins, I thought it would be fun to take a sneak peek into what Christmas was like for me growing up in a small, suburban town in the midlands of South Carolina, and I hope my memories will bring back some good memories for you too.
In the 60's at 2815 Wilton Road, where our streets were still unpaved, and the backyard was my playroom of choice, my parents knew how to make Christmas magical and wonderful for my little sister and me. Decorations were always aglow with lots of lights, tinsel, and fake snow.
One of my earliest Christmas memories is kneeling beside my mom around our living room coffee table. This table usually held a large family Bible, but during Christmas, a very tiny, colorful manger scene was put out on display. Not for being told, "Don't touch!," but rather the opposite. It was for little hands to hold and play with.
My mom was a great story-teller. She filled hours of our childhood reading books and telling us stories. She's the one who made the little manger scene come alive with the power of story from the greatest Book ever written, the Bible.
That tiny manger scene quickly became one of my favorite pieces of the season. Each Christmas, after it was unpacked and safely in its endearing spot, I would get on my small knees, eye-level with all the characters, and tell the story of Jesus' birth, not only in my mind, but out loud I'm sure. I could place the donkey, cows and sheep anywhere I chose, and the shepherd boy with the lamb on his shoulders was always placed where he could see the newborn King with ease. The itty-bitty baby Jesus in the manger was snuggled tenderly between Mary and Joseph with the angel right behind them. Then, I would march the wise men into the scene bearing gifts from afar and place them in their positions of worship. With child-like awe and wonder, I would repeat the story over again and again.
My very wise mom understood the importance of story and play, and because of her, I learned the true story of Christmas at a very early age.
A Christmas Memory-Making Tip for Parents and Grandparents: Find a safe, non-toxic, non-breakable manger scene with movable pieces for tiny hands. As you tell your young children or grandchildren the story of the birth of Jesus, use the characters to bring His story to life. Tell it often. Ask some simple questions to see what they are learning. Then, give them the freedom to play with the pieces. Every once in a while have them tell you the story of Christmas using the manger scene characters. Hearing the story from a child's perspective is not only precious, but it can be quite entertaining.
I would love to hear about your Christmas memories and tips as we move through the most wonderful time of the year!