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An Advent tradition for young and old

For many families, preparing the manger for Jesus is an essential part of Advent.

December is here. We are four days into Advent. We are a mere twenty-four days from Christmas.

The Christmas busy-ness has already begun—decorating the house, preparing for guests, putting up lights, buying gifts, writing cards…

It’s far too easy to get far too busy far too quickly at this time of year. You may be feeling stressed already.

So how about an Advent tradition that brings you and your family back to the true purpose of this season—not so much preparing a house for guests (though that’s important, too), but preparing our hearts for Christ Himself, the most important Guest of all?

In order to keep the focus on Christ, many families have an annual tradition of “preparing the manger” for Him. This is not a one-time activity, but a simple daily routine throughout Advent that helps keep Christ at the center of everyone’s day. It is an especially suitable tradition for children, but everyone can participate.

Here’s how it works. You start with an empty manger, and for every good deed you do throughout the day, you add a piece of straw. If you are rich in good deeds during Advent, the manger will be full of soft straw when the Divine Guest arrives. The more good deeds you do, the softer the manger will be.

On Christmas Day, place a figure of the Baby Jesus in the manger, made soft and comfortable by all those good works.

You can use real straw, paper strips, yarn, or another material for the straw. For the manger, you can use a basket or box, or build one yourself. You can get creative with this wonderful tradition and add your own elements—some families take straw out if one of them does something bad, which works as a teaching tool!

At The Catholic Company, we offer The Giving Manger Gift Set. It has everything you need to bring this tradition into your home. This set includes a wooden manger, straw, a beautifully designed figure of the Baby Jesus, and a book with a story that brings the tradition to life for young children. Sure to become a favorite annual activity in your home! Order yours today!

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