How to make setting up your creche a meaningful family tradition
Ah, the creche. The nativity scene. The crèche, if you’re feeling fancy. No matter what you call it, this beloved set will soon grace the tabletops and tree skirts of homes around the world. As a new mother with a young, growing family, I can’t wait to pull out our set to prepare for the holidays, but I wonder — how can I make sure that our family creche becomes more than just another Christmas toy or decoration?
I’ve heard countless stories from mothers across generations that have stifled laughs and cringes as their eager little ones turn the plastic Holy Family into their new doll set. The set I grew up with had been captured by many family pets and teething infants over the years and had the bite marks to show it.
Despite these figures enduring some wear and tear over the years, I’m thankful that my mom allowed me to explore the Nativity scene through play. I remember spending hours gazing at the nurturing faces of Mary and Joseph, admiring the loving way that the characters all gestured to the newborn Jesus. It was a way to explore the Gospel through imagination.
My young family is just beginning to build our traditions, and I yearn for ways to make the weeks leading up to Christmas both enchanting and meaningful. I want to create traditions that help them grow closer to God. This year I am helping the nonprofit organization I work for, Catholic Extension, launch a reflection series to help families do just that—turn their nativity scene into a beautiful, spiritual practice.
Families can download the free e-book “Christmas at Home: Meet Your Creche” and receive weekly reflection emails written by Catholic theologian and author, John Shea, to help them set up their creche with care. The book’s set of five poems offer an imaginative look into the journey of the Wise Men, the Shepherds, Joseph, Mary, and the Child in the Manger.
In the rush of the holiday season, it’s nice to slow down and treasure time as a family. After dinner on Sunday night, light a candle on the Advent wreath and gather around the nativity scene. Each week, allow a new family member to add one of the characters and read the short section to see the Nativity from their eyes. Each section includes a Bible reading, a poem from that week’s figure, and a question to ponder.
By Christmas Eve, the creche will be complete, and you will have some new, sweet memories of setting it up with your family. Visit catholicextension.org/tradition to receive an e-book download to follow along each week. You’ll also receive their first character’s reflection by email on the first Sunday of Advent, December 1st.
In the spirit of Catholic Extension’s mission to build up vibrant and transformative Catholic faith communities, we also invite you to share photos of your experience on social media using the hashtag #meetyourcreche.
Copyright 2019 Kathryn Eardley
About the author: Kathryn Eardley lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan, with her two kids, husband, and goldendoodle. She can be found sharing the mission of the national nonprofit Catholic Extension (@cathextension on twitter or @catholicextension on Instagram)