I grew up where each Christmas we would put on the Christmas Nativity Play. While our church would often put on a play with children as the "actors", I also remember doing it at home as a family activity. Sometimes it was just the 5 of us while some years we would invite neighbors and family friends over to participate with us. And even though Christmas has become very commercial over the years, this remains one of my favorite family traditions. As we got older, we stopped acting it out and instead just read the story from the Bible. But now that my older brother and I both have kids, we have started to carry on the tradition with the next generation. This was our third year acting out the Nativity play with Noah's cousins, and was probably our best so far.
Noah's cousins drove down to New Jersey on Christmas Eve morning. As soon as they got to my parents' house, we started getting ready for our Nativity Play. Growing up, our costumes were very homemade. I remember I always wanted to be an angel and would end up wearing one of my dad's undershirts with some silver garland on my head. And the shepherds would wear bathrobes and have towels secured to their heads with a neck tie. We would even get some Burger King paper crowns and cover them with tinfoil for the 3 kings/wise men. A few years ago my mom organized and directed the play at their church, and she ended up buying a ton of costumes that we now have at our disposal. (My mom bought these costumes from here, but my sister-in-law got some for their church from Oriental Trading). Noah has one girl cousin, and she's happy to be Mary every year. While one of Noah's boy cousins had no interest in participating this year (he wasn't feeling very well), Noah and his other cousin, Matthew, were very into it. While my mom had purchased some shepherd "dresses", we then took a king size pillowcase and neck tie to make the headdress. We learned the king size pillowcase was a much better size compared to the towels we used to use. She picked up some staffs at Party City, and while we were a little concerned the boys would use them as weapons, we were pleasantly surprised that they behaved and no one got hurt.
Back in 1984, this script was published in a church magazine. Over the years, my parents have adapted the original script and we now use this script for our Nativity Play. My mom's experience is that kids often mumble the lines or don't speak loudly enough. So instead, she wrote the play so that a Narrator is the only person who speaks while the children act it out. And my favorite part is that in between all the speaking parts, we sing Christmas songs to help tell the story. My dad plays the guitar and leads the singing. Here are the lyrics to the songs we sing. If you don't have someone musical in your family, you could easily sing without background music or even download the songs to sing along with.
I love how this family tradition brings back so many childhood memories. To this day we use the crib that I used for my baby dolls as a child. This year, we borrowed Noah's Cabbage Patch doll to be Baby Jesus, but we still wrapped him up in my baby blanket.
And since we only had three kids this year, everyone got to have multiple roles. Mary and the shepherds did a quick change mid play and were then the 3 Kings (we got the crowns from here). I wrapped up some empty boxes for the wise men to give to Baby Jesus. The funniest part was when the kids were goofing around moving the boxes all over the place... they each wanted the gold wrapped one ;)
And once we were done with the Nativity Play, we sang some more of the upbeat Santa songs. We handed out bells, Santa hats, and reindeer ears and the kids put on a little show for us. It was hilarious to watch the kids dance around. Noah was very serious with his bell ringing and was tapping his foot to the beat.
Christmas is a big deal in my family. And while we definitely go all out with the toys and the gifts, it's nice that we also make sure to include the story of Jesus' birth into our celebration. I love that it's an easy and fun way to really get the kids involved and remind them of the real reason we celebrate.
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