I grew up without getting Christmas presents.
Mum liked to make sure that we remembered the 'True Meaning' of Christmas.
She reminded us that it was Jesus's Birthday.
It never worried me, as my birthday is 1 wk before Christmas, however, Mum's way always made sense to us, so we didn't feel like we were missing out.
Being brought up on a farm, we'd always go for a drive to find the perfect 'real' Christmas tree, chop it down and decorate it...with no presents underneath...haha!
We'd have massive Christmas celebrations with family.
I have 42 cousins, so there was always a lot of fun and always too much food.
The thing that affected me the most at Christmas time, was the Nativity set.
We'd love unwrapping each figurine and setting it up.
Mum's nativity set always had a 'removable Jesus'.
Then she would hide the Jesus, and not put Him in till Christmas Eve, after we'd been to Mass.
We would rush inside after Church to see if He had been born.
The memories are so lovely, as we never rushed in for presents, but to see if the Lord Jesus was born.
After the nativity set had been set up (at the beginning of Advent), mum taught us that the manger had to have heaps of hay in it before Jesus was born, to keep Him warm.
So she said that each time we did something 'good', we could go find a piece of straw and place it in the manger...secretly.
Making sure that Jesus's bed would be warm when He was born, was our motivation to do good things.
What a great idea!
There was also a special way our nativity was set up.
We'd always place the donkey and cow behind the manger, so they breathed on Jesus to keep him warm.
The sheep always were in front of Him (facing Him), the angel hanging or behind the cow/donkey, watching over Him.
Mary and Jesus were obviously on either side.
The shepherd's on the left & the Kings on the right.
And they were all facing in towards the baby Jesus.
It's so funny, because when I see other nativity sets set up, I feel like changing them and placing them the way I was taught:)
So now I do the same with my children.
However, they get one book each, and it is a story about Christmas or a nice story about Jesus.
I never buy a nativity set without a 'removable Jesus', and they are quite hard to come by.
I understand the 3 Kings gave presents.
However, they gave them to Jesus, as it was His birthday.
All being said, my children don't miss out, as their Nan & Pop give them presents at Christmas time, when we go over there.
I know Christmas time is a time for 'giving', but I've already noticed my children don't concentrate on "present's" at Christmas time, but on the child Jesus and when He will be born and placed in the manger.
Here are some pictures of nativity sets I have bought over the years for my family or God children.
The one with the sand and rocks around it was the one I grew up with, Mum and Dad's.
If you click on the image, you can see them enlarged.