Christmas Special

January 04, 2015

The Christmas season is wrapping up. Tomorrow marks the last of the twelve days of Christmas (which actually start on Christmas). Today is Epiphany Sunday, which helps celebrate the end of the Christmas season and often brings a focus on the visit of the magi. Christmas trees, decorations, and lights are finding their way back into garages and attics to hibernate for the next ten or eleven months.

Yet, even as Christmas draws to a close, I wish to share one more Christmas tale. After all, we shouldn't end this special season too quickly. 

Early in December, I picked up some eggnog from the store. One of my favorite parts of the season, I looked forward to sharing this heavenly treat with my two-year-old son. We made his drink as half-eggnog and half-milk (but don't tell him because we did it secretly). He loved it! Soon he started calling it his "special drink." 

"I want my special drink, daddy."

A few days after this started, my mom told my son that he would get to help her set up Bethlehem (she has a fancy village set). When we arrived at her house, we soon realized he thought "special" was the key word for Christmas.

"I want to eat," he said. 

"What do you want to eat?" I asked

"My special ham!"

It took a moment before I realized that he thought we said "special ham" instead of Bethlehem. So they set up Bethlehem and then ate ham for lunch. Perhaps a new Christmas tradition was born.

We then started setting up our own "special ham" at home. This year we tried a children's book called The Donkey in the Living Room by Sarah Cunningham. It's a bit of an alternative to the crazy shelf elf thing. He loved it! 

With the book, you get a Bethlehem character out each day for ten days. For each character there is a short story told from their perspective. The rhyming stories and nice illustrations captured my son's attention and taught the Christmas story. After the first night, he would get excited as bedtime approached. 

"I want a character, daddy." 

We used that as motivation to go through his nightly routine of potty, pajama dressing, tooth brushing, and more. It worked so well I'm tempted to get about 350 more characters and do it all year! After Christmas, we actually put the characters away and went through the book all over again.

Hearing the story of Christmas told by the various characters helped him learn more about the true meaning of Christmas and to start identifying key people and animals. With four of the days featuring animals (donkey, cow, sheep, and camels), the book does a great job of sparking the imagination. Since my son had enjoyed visiting a live nativity so much, he found it especially cool that he had his own "special ham." 

I loved seeing my son so excited to learn about a new "special ham" character that he chose it each night as his bedtime story. We would get a character out of the closet and then he would hold it while I read the story. He would then run over to add the new character to the display. 

This book will be a key part of our Christmas next year, perhaps becoming a tradition for years. We loved the book so much we got another copy for my nephew. If you have young children or grandchildren, buy the book for next Christmas. It's good to be reminded that the Christmas story is indeed special.