Christmas is a magical time of year, especially with meaningful family traditions. Maybe your family always gets together for dinner on Christmas Eve, or maybe your kids write letters to Santa every year. Some families like to take a drive to see Christmas lights or go shopping on Black Friday.
All holiday traditions can have special meaning, but traditions that focus on Jesus Christ bring greater meaning to Christmas celebrations. Here are 10 ways to keep Christ in your Christmas traditions in Utah County.
1. Visit a nativity scene
Christmas is, at its heart, a celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. Nativity events—some featuring traditional nativities, some performing live ones—help focus family members on why we celebrate Christmas.
The Living Nativity in Alpine, usually held in early December, is a great place to visit and consider the circumstances of Christ’s birth. Though the exhibit is now over for 2014, it’s held annually and will be back in 2015.
Or, if you’d rather stay inside, watch this video of the record-setting world’s largest live nativity:
2. Watch the First Presidency’s Christmas Devotional
This year’s First Presidency’s Christmas Devotional was broadcast live on Dec. 7. It’s now available online at LDS.org and on the Mormon Channel. Hear messages from priesthood and auxiliary leaders of the Church by re-watching the devotional here:
3. Visit the Springville Museum of Art’s Christmas exhibit
The Springville Museum of Art (126 East 400 South, Springville) presents the 29th Annual Christmas Lamb Show, which is running now and will continue until Jan. 4, 2015.
The annual exhibition is inspired by a story about the true meaning of Christmas and showcases the art of school-age children from around Utah County. Free guided tours are available for the whole family.
4. Feed the needy
Christ taught his disciples in one of His parables that “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me” (Matthew 25:40). Keep Christ in your Christmas traditions by following His teaching to love and serve others.
Provo’s Community Action Services and Food Bank is open to volunteer groups, families and corporations to come once or regularly. Visit the organization’s website for more information on how to volunteer.
5. Attend “A Christmas Carol” at Hale Center Theater
Charles Dickens’ classic Christmas tale comes to life on stage every year at the Hale Center Theater. The show is running currently and will continue through Dec. 23. The show runs for two hours, including intermission. Tickets cost from $16 to $22; children’s tickets are $4 or $6.
6. See the Lights at Temple Square
Though not located in Utah County, making the drive north to Salt Lake City to see the lights at Temple Square is a popular holiday tradition for many Utah families. While you’re there, check out the nativity on the reflecting pool (which was originally placed on the large lawn just south of the North Visitors Center) and nativities around Temple Square representing different cultures.
7. Secret Santa
The spirit of giving is an important part of the holiday season. Choose another family to secretly give gifts to for a week or two. Anonymous giving can help give children a sense of selflessness and will help everyone in your family think more of others.
8. Read a Christmas classic
Take some time to relax this Christmas season and read a good book. Some Christmas classics that will help you remember the true meaning of Christmas include “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens, “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” by Dr. Seuss, “The Night Before Christmas” by Clement Clarke Moore, “Polar Express” by Chris Van Allsburg and “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever” by Barbara Robinson.
9. Life of Christ scripture challenge
Reading the scriptures is an excellent way to learn more about the Savior and the significance of his mortal life, including His birth. Try reading scriptures exclusively about the life of Christ during the days and weeks leading up to Christmas. You might try to read all four of the gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) during December or use the topical guide to find different references to the Savior’s role as Messiah.
10. Perform the nativity on Christmas Eve
If you have small children (and even if you don’t), the evening of Christmas Eve can be full of anticipation and excitement for the next day’s festivities. You might try channeling all that pre-Christmas energy into the preparation and performance of the nativity scene. Have a member of the family read the account of the Savior’s birth from Luke chapter 2 and have other family members act it out. The tradition will help everyone remember the Savior’s birth and, as a bonus, will help keep everyone busy while they await a visit from Santa Claus.