13- But behold, that which is of God inviteth and enticeth to do good continually; wherefore, every thing which inviteth and enticeth to do good, and to love God, and to serve him, is inspired of God.
1. Away in a manger, no crib for his bed,
The little Lord Jesus laid down his sweet head;
The stars in the heavens looked down where he lay,
The little Lord Jesus, asleep on the hay.
2. The cattle are lowing; the poor baby wakes,
But little Lord Jesus, no crying he makes.
I love thee, Lord Jesus; look down from the sky
And stay by my cradle till morning is nigh.
3. Be near me, Lord Jesus; I ask thee to stay
Close by me forever, and love me, I pray.
Bless all the dear children in thy tender care,
And fit us for heaven to live with thee there.
*For Younger Children: Read this story*
Michael gazed at the tiny, soft bed of straw. “I am glad that baby Jesus will have a soft, warm bed for Christmas Eve,” he thought.
For the past week Michael had carefully tucked little pieces of straw into this tiny manger, one piece at a time. Michael thought that it just might be the best Christmas he ever had because now he was old enough to understand what Christmas was all about.
A week ago Mom had given a family home evening lesson about the true meaning of Christmas. She said that Jesus Christ was the greatest gift Heavenly Father gave to the world. Then she presented each child in the family with a small, empty manger and a tiny figure of the baby Jesus.
“For the next week you will each have a chance to give a present back to Heavenly Father,” Mom said.
“How can we do that?” Michael asked.
“Your gift to Heavenly Father will be to serve others,” she said. “Each time you do a good deed or help another person, you may add a piece of straw to your manger. The more kindness you show to others, the softer the manger will be on Christmas Eve.”
“I hope I can get more straw in my manger than anybody else!” Michael thought.
The next day Michael started working to collect straw.
“Mom, can I help you sweep the floor?” Michael asked, when he saw her cleaning the kitchen.
“I’ll help you find your teddy bear,” he told his little brother when he cried for his lost toy.
“I want to shovel some snow too,” he said when his dad went outside to shovel the driveway.
Within a few days Michael’s little manger looked very different. It was stuffed full of straw! But Michael noticed a change in himself too. He started to enjoy doing kind things for others because he knew it was what Heavenly Father wanted him to do. Sometimes he even forgot to add a piece of straw to the manger when he helped.
Michael decided that doing nice things made him feel good inside. On Christmas Eve, as he stood by the soft lights of the Christmas tree, Michael gently laid his tiny baby Jesus in the manger, which was now overflowing with straw.
Michael knew he had done the best he could to show his love for Heavenly Father and Jesus. This was the best Christmas ever.
(Taken from: Jacob F. Frandsen, “Straw for the Manger”, Friend, Dec. 2010, 36–37)
*Help Younger Children remember this story by asking questions, such as:
What did Michael have to do in order to add a piece of straw to his manger?
What did Michael help his mom do?
What did Michael help his little brother find?
What did Michael help his Dad with?
How did Michael feel on Christmas Ever?
*For Teenagers: Read this Article from the Ensign*
One of my favorite Christmas carols is “For unto Us a Child Is Born” from Handel’s Messiah. It is a reminder of what Christmas is all about. I often wonder what Mary felt when she was told by the angel Gabriel, “Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women” (Luke 1:28).
Mary was troubled by this, and the angel continued:
“Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God.
“And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus.
“He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David:
“And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end” (Luke 1:30–33).
What a wondrous experience this must have been! Mary’s promised son was to be Heavenly Father’s Only Begotten Son in the flesh. She had been chosen to bring into the world the greatest gift of all: our Savior, Jesus Christ.
Heavenly Father gave this gift to all of us, young or old, rich or poor. We did not have to search the shops for it. It did not cost us a single penny. It did not come wrapped in shiny wrapping paper. The most treasured gift of all was wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger. It was sent to all of us with love from our Heavenly Father.
(Joan M. Olenycz, “The Gift”, Ensign, Dec. 2010, 10)
Discuss and Brainstorm gifts that you can give Heavenly Father and Jesus this year for Christmas. Discuss them as a family. (Any act of service is a gift to our Heavenly Father and to Jesus.) Christmas is a great time of year to serve!
Crunchy Snowman or Pine-Tree Fruit Kabobs
Crunchy the Snowman
1- To make a batch, melt 1 cup of white chocolate chips in the top of a double boiler.
2- One at a time, dip one end of an 8-inch pretzel rod in the melted chocolate and use a plastic spoon or knife to spread the chocolate two thirds of the way down the rod.
3- Set the pretzels on a sheet of waxed paper and press on mini chocolate chips for eyes and buttons. Use orange decorators’ gel to add a carrot nose.
4- When the chocolate has hardened, stand the pretzels in a mug or glass and tie on strips of fruit leather for scarves. For each hat, stretch a gummy ring over the narrow end of a gumdrop and secure it on the pretzel rod with a dab of melted chocolate.
Pine-Tree Fruit Kabobs
1- To make the tree trunk, remove the top and cut 1 inch off of the bottom of a large pineapple, then peel it (all a parent’s job).
2- On the skewers, thread three to five pieces of assorted fresh fruits.
3- Starting at the bottom, insert the skewers into the pineapple at a slight angle. Top the tree with skewered slices of star fruit. After the branches are eaten, don’t forget to slice up the tree trunk.
(Recipes taken from Familyfun.go.com)
1- Get a basket or something you can use for a manger and cut up strips of yellow paper. Explain that you are going to try to be like Michael. For every good deed you do and good act of service, you can place a piece of yellow paper (straw) in the basket (manger). See how good of a manger your family can make for the Baby Jesus on Christmas Eve.
2- Go Christmas caroling as a family to your neighbors.
3- Plan an act of service you can do for someone as a family this week.
Aleah is a graduate of Southern Virginia University, where she studied English, Creative Writing, and Dance. She now works full time as a marketing and product manager, writer, and editor. Aleah served a mission in California and loves baking, Lang Leav poetry, Gaynor Minden pointe shoes, and Bollywood movies.