One of the joys of Christmas is building family traditions. We take traditions from the families we were born into and then come together and create new traditions for our own growing families. Do you trim your trees with lights or with popcorn? Do you take time to go Christmas light hunting? Does your family go Christmas caroling in your neighborhood? Do you decorate the outside of your home with lights? What is the special Christmas breakfast that you make every year? Whatever your family traditions, the Christmas season is a beautiful time to slow down and focus and make memories together. The Giving Manger from WorthyKids provides a great opportunity for a new family Christmas advent tradition. One that will help your family shift the focus of Christmas from getting to giving.
The Giving Manger comes with a hardback storybook, beautifully illustrated by Emily King. The book explains how the pieces all work together and helps get kids excited about giving throughout the Christmas season. In addition to the storybook, the Giving Manger comes with a wooden manger, a bundle of straw, and a wooden baby Jesus.
Author Allison Hottinger has a passion for children’s literature. Her own five children gave her the inspiration for The Giving Manger. In the story, we meet brother and sister Anne and Ben and their parents. The family has always celebrated a modest Christmas with one special gift each year. One year, their father announces the start of a new tradition. He tells the children that there will be gifts every day of the season. The children soon find out they are not getting more gifts, but rather are being encouraged to give and serve. At first, they are not excited, but as the story progresses, the children begin to find opportunities to put others first and find joy in doing so.
Throughout the Christmas season, families are encouraged to give and perform random acts of kindness. They can give of their resources, their time, their energy, etc. Creativity in giving is encouraged. Each time a kind deed or act of service is performed, a piece of straw is added to the manger. Families work together to spread love and kindness and experience joy in the process.
At the end of the book, there is a section titled, “Manger Moments.” On these pages, the reader can find service ideas. The ideas are listed in the following ways:
- For Children
- For Teens
- For Families
The book also includes a page titled, “Manger Memories” where families can record their service through the years.
Holiday traditions play an important part in building strong bonds in family and community. They give us a sense of belonging and a way to express what is important to us. They help us connect to our history and help celebrate generations of family. The Christmas advent traditions we build today could carry on for generations to come.
The Giving Manger points families to Jesus as the reason for Christmas. In doing so, it teaches families that Jesus came and served and sacrificed without asking for anything in return. It teaches that when we love and serve others, we are also loving and serving Jesus. In a society that is so “me” focused, the Giving Manger gives an opportunity to be “others” focused. Are you ready to fill the manger with acts of kindness this Christmas season?
Thank you to Katie Dugdale of The Delight Directed Homeschooler for writing this introductory article.