Last night our family drove to the small Oklahoma town of Calumet to watch our daughter sing with her high school choir. They were invited to perform as entertainment for their annual Christmas outdoor event. Calumet has a special place in my heart, because my dad grew up there. I have lots of Christmas memories with my cousins making hay houses in the barn and opening what seemed to be the most presents I had ever seen. No one has ever been able to match my grandmother’s homemade cinnamon rolls that were an annual treat at her house.

So, as excited as I was to see the choir perform, it was what happened afterward that made my heart soar. Outside, in the middle of the town square, the citizens of Calumet performed the Christmas Pageant. It was such a simple reminder of the story of a young Mary and Joseph who never dreamed of having a baby in a manger in Bethlehem. Bethlehem–the city of bread. And, yet, as the prophets had foretold, the bread of life would be delivered in a stable.

I was even more floored after the program that the school superintendent came forward to lead the town in a benediction. But right before he prayed, he did something you don’t find much in our communities today. He shared with everyone about how the Christmas story was just the beginning. He shared how to have a personal relationship with Christ and encouraged the town to find a place of worship on Sunday and to seek the Christ Child as their Savior.

Why am I telling you this as a Christmas memory?

Because having a nativity for your children in your house during Christmas is extremely important. Purchase an inexpensive one that they can play with (my mom made one of cloth when the kids were really little). Let them act out the story and relive it several times. Talk about each person in the nativity and let them focus on baby Jesus.

These are the real reasons for Christmas memories.