Sometime near the end of October, I received a phone call from the Stake music director asking if I would play the piano during one of the 30 minute time slots of the two-day Nativity event that our stake holds every year. I was shocked that she asked and excited to play and said YES without hesitation.
This is such an amazing, spirit-filled way to launch the Christmas season. I absolutely love it. Beginning in early November, announcements are made in each of the wards requesting "donations" of Nativity scenes. People from each congregation come to the Stake Center with their personal Nativity scenes to be used in a massive display during the first weekend in December. There are so many unique and beautiful ways to depict the birth of the Savior.
A day or two after receiving that first phone call, someone else from the stake called and asked if I would be on the decorating committee and be in charge of the living Nativity scene. Yikes!! I'm SO not the decorator type. I agonize over the smallest things, and this was NOT a small thing. I reluctantly said yes and hoped there would be people there who had previous experience (or at least a picture) that could help me.
The living nativity scene came together beautifully (because I had A LOT of help.) And guess who got to play the part of Mary in the living nativity? Yep, that's my little Flowering Buttercup! She volunteered for one of the hour long shifts during the weekend. She was so reverent and beautiful in that costume, and her friend Brayden was the perfect Joseph. People kept walking up to the stage to see if they were real.
There is no better time than now, this very Christmas season, for all of us to rededicate ourselves to the principles taught by Jesus the Christ. It is the time to love the Lord, our God, with all our heart - and our neighbors as ourselves.
Let us make Christmas real. Is isn't just tinsel and ribbon, unless we have made it so in our lives. Christmas is the spirit of giving without a thought of getting. it is happiness because we see joy in people. It is forgetting self and finding time for others. It is discarding the meaningless and stressing the true values. It is peace because we have found peace in the Savior's teachings. It is the time we realize most deeply that the more love is expended, the more there is of it for others.
As the season envelops us with all its glory, may we, as did the Wise Men, seek a bright, particular star to guide us to our Christmas opportunity in service to our fellowman. May we all make the journey to Bethlehem in spirit, taking with us a tender, caring heart as our gift to the Savior."
-President Thomas S. Monson
2012 Christmas Devotional