My Favorite Family Christmas Tradition

This post is sponsored by The Star in theaters on November 17th.

“Christmas is family all wrapped in love,” is what my mom used to say.  She used to love Christmas and would always make it such a special time of year for our family.  She loved celebrating special traditions and creating new ones every year.

One tradition that I will never forget is putting up the Nativity every year at Christmas.  

My mom purchased this nativity the first year that she and my dad were married in 1964 for $10.98 at the local store.   She LOVED this nativity, and it was a very special part of our Christmas each year when I was growing up.  Every year, my brother, sister, and I would unwrap each nativity figure and place it in the wooden stable.  I would always try to unwrap the smaller figurines because I always wanted to get baby Jesus or “Gloria” to place in the nativity.  

“Gloria” is what I thought the angel’s name was because of the sash she was holding in her hands.  Poor Gloria has endured a lot over the years. She has been accidentally bumped off the nail that is holding her at the top of the nativity and has suffered some chips and cracks.  She even had to have her wing super glued back on one year.  I love that sweet angel. She’s older than me, but has never looked so beautiful.

When my mom found out she had cancer eight years ago, she began to make decisions of what each of her children would inherit of hers after she passed.  My mom knew I wanted nothing more than her precious and priceless nativity.

My sweet mama went to be with the Lord shortly after her diagnosis. Christmas has never been the same without her.  But I think of her each year as I put our nativity out and place Gloria in her spot of honor.  And I think of how amazing it must be for my mom to celebrate Christmas with the angels now, (and I smile at the thought of her meeting “Gloria.”) {wink}

I think that is what I love most about Christmas, the sweet memories that it brings to our hearts and minds…those precious moments together with family and friends.

I found these pictures of my boys in 2009, putting up Mom and Dad’s treasured Nativity for the very first time after mom’s passing.

And me holding Gloria….

It was bittersweet to watch my boys unwrap those figurines, but I knew that Mom was smiling down on us.  

Because even though I had fun as a child, preparing for Santa’s visit to our home on Christmas Eve, Mom always made sure our family knew what the true meaning of Christmas was all about…

the Birth of Jesus Christ our King!

And now I am doing my best to pass on a heritage of faith to my children, by carrying on the tradition of putting out the Nativity and reminding them of that very first Christmas night.

I hope they treasure these memories in their hearts forever too.

I know that I will.  Being together as a family, celebrating traditions and the true meaning of Christmas, is what the season is all about!


Here are some ways you can incorporate the tradition of setting up the Nativity in your own family:

  • Have each of your children dress up as a character from the Christmas Story and re-enact the story of the birth of Christ as you read it from the Bible.
  • Find your favorite Christmas music and have it playing while setting up your Nativity.
  • Read the story of the birth of Jesus from the Bible and have your children place the figurines in the Nativity as they are mentioned in the story.  
  • Sing “Silent Night” together after you have finished putting up the Nativity together.
  • Jesus is the greatest gift we can ever receive!  After setting up the Nativity, have each family member share a “gift” they want to give back to Jesus in the coming year.  (Examples:  “I will be nice to my brother.”  “I will help our elderly neighbor clean off her sidewalks.”  etc…)
  • Save the tradition of setting up the Nativity until Christmas Eve.  Before everyone settles into bed that night, set out the Nativity and talk about the true meaning of Christmas Day.  

This year, a fun way to incorporate the story of the birth of Jesus will be to take my kiddos to the new movie, The Star, that is about the very first Christmas.


It’s an animated film about a small but brave donkey named Bo who yearns for a life beyond his daily grind at the village mill. One day he finds the courage to break free, and finally goes on the adventure of his dreams. On his journey, he teams up with Ruth, a lovable sheep who has lost her flock and Dave, a dove with lofty aspirations. Along with three wisecracking camels and some eccentric stable animals, Bo and his new friends follow the Star and become accidental heroes in the greatest story ever told – the first Christmas.

This movie includes the voice talents of Kelly Clarkson and Tyler Perry, and the musical talents of Yolanda Adams and Kirk Franklin.

The Star will be in theaters beginning November 17th.  Enjoy a night out this Christmas season at the movies with family and friends!








    1. I was looking on the web today to see who the angel holding the banner was holding the sash over the baby in the manger I always thought is was the angels name but then last year I had another thought that the baby in the mangers name is Gloria well I suppose it could be either but my name is Gloria and I believe that baby in the manger was named Gloria and that most who have been taught about baby jesus will find that we should probably seek the discernment and grace and mercy from the Lord God Almighty the story of my life and my awakening will touch a precious heart . it’s all in what people choose to believe may God bless each and every living thing on this planet .thank you for your story may blessings be

      1. Hi Gloria,
        Thank you for visiting. But the baby in the manger was not Gloria, it was our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Prophesied about in the Bible, He was born in a manger in the town of Bethlehem. He is part of the Holy Trinity: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. He lived on the earth for 33 years and then was crucified on a cross for our sins so that we may live in eternity with Him in Heaven. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father (God,) but through Him.
        John 14:6

  1. Looks like a good movie to take the kids to see. I also have a nativity scene that I love. My kids made each piece in their pottery class and it’s my favorite Christmas treasure!

  2. This is the exact same nativity that my parents have! They were married in 1962 and just celebrated their 55th wedding anniversary! Theirs, too, has seen its fair share of super glue and chipped paint, but that just gives it more character!😉 I have five siblings and we decided long ago that we would have to rotate several of our family’s ’ Christmas treasures on a yearly basis including a 1950’s aluminum tree with its original ornaments and a hand wound music box that belonged to my great, great, great grandparents and came over on a boat from Germany with them when they immigrated to this great country so many years ago! It’s truly “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year”!

  3. I’ve collected a number of nativity sets over the years, and love each one of them. One of my favorites is a Native American version, with a tipi instead of a stable, and western animals (buffalo, eagle, coyote, etc) in place of the traditional sheep, cow, and donkey. I like setting up the sets in different rooms of the house, so I see one everywhere :-) Years ago, I was in Mexico City for Christmas and attended Christmas Eve mass at a church near our hotel. At the end of the mass, all the children lined up to have their Baby Jesus’s blessed by the priest before going home to place him in the manger. It was such a sweet scene, and I hope made good memories for those children. Have a very Merry and Blessed Christmas season, and thank you for bringing sweet memories to my mind :-) The movie looks cute, too!

  4. What a touching post. Thanks so much for sharing this wonderful story of the tradition your mom started and you’ve carried on. I wanted to cry and smile as I thought of your mom. I lost my dad when I was 39 yrs. old…..almost 20 years ago and I still miss him at Christmas, as he always was the one to read the Christmas Story from Luke before we opened our presents. Now, my brothers, son or son-in-laws read. Although its still special, nothing can replace my dad. :) I just saw the previews on the movie coming out. I’d like to go see it. Looks cute. :)

  5. What a beautiful memory of Christmas Eve and your mom. I put my nativity up weeks before Christmas but Wait until after midnight mass to put in the baby Jesus. Such a quiet beautiful time for us. Thank you for sharing Traci!

  6. Thank you for sharing this again with us, and reminding us of the true meaning of the upcoming season. What a beautiful tribute to your mother, and I’m sure she smiles proudly as you honor her tradition. I too have a nativity that belonged to my mom and I too lovingly unwrap and treasure each piece of it. I guess I’m selfish because I choose to do it alone and remember the times with my mom, best friend, mentor and cheerleader. It’s kind of my time of “peace before the storm” so to say. Our mothers left this earth far too soon, and I’m certain we will never understand why this side of heaven.

  7. Such a sweet memory and family tradition….Life and Christmas is never the same without our loved ones. It is a comfort to know they are having the best Christmas.

  8. My parents had the exact same Nativity! When they passed…i got it! I put it up in the same way my dad did it for years.
    Enjoy the season.

  9. Traci, when Wanda and I were in homemakers together (years ago) one year we did a program on Christmas traditions and she and I shared
    and had a wonderful time. I loved your mom and was so saddened by her passing. I don’t really know your brother but she left two wonderful
    girls to carry on her traditions and share Jesus with many people. Blessings for your holidays in 2017.

  10. Your post was so beautiful it made me cry thinking about my own Mom and how much she is missed. Will be watching The Star with my grandsons!

  11. My mother had almost the exact same nativity. The figures are the same with a few additions but the stable is different. She loved and treasured that nativity throughout her life. When she started downsizing, she gave it to her oldest granddaughter – my daughter Chelsea. My mom has been gone since 2010 but my daughter and I enjoy setting up her nativity every Christmas to honor her love of Christ, Christmas and her family.

  12. My boys are grown and on their own now but when they were little, we also had a Christmas tradition surrounding the nativity. The boys would help me unwrap each piece and place them. However, our baby Jesus didn’t go in until Christmas Eve when we returned from our family gathering. Also, the boys took turns each evening before bed to move the three wise men around our house, as they were traveling to the manger. On Christmas eve, one of my sons would get to move the three wise men to the stable and one would get to place Baby Jesus. I hope that someday when I’m a Grandma, they will also incorporate this into their family as a tradition!

  13. Love your post! I took my boys, ages 14 & 9, to see The Star with our children’s church group, my 14 year old is a leader. The movie was Great! I cried, of course. It was funny & moving 😊

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