Friday, December 19, 2014

The First Gift of Christmas

In The Polar Express, the first gift of Christmas is what Santa gives to a child he chooses from among those who got taken by magical train to the North Pole on Christmas Eve. It’s a beautiful storybook. But that isn’t really the first gift.

Sometimes when we look at gift giving at Christmas, we go all the way back to the wise men from the east, who brought gold, frankincense, and myrrh to honor the newborn king. We give gifts to each other, following their example, to celebrate the special occasion.
But theirs wasn’t the first gift of Christmas either.
“The first gift of Christmas was a simple gift given by a father to all his children, to us. He gave us His son, the Christ. He is the gift.” That is the description for a video offered by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, called “He Is the Gift.” It’s a beautiful little package, under three minutes, reminding us where to focus, and what to remember, while we spend time with friends and family. 


One of my favorite things to do, to celebrate Christmas, is to reenact the nativity story. We’ve been doing it on Christmas Eve every year since our second son, Economic Sphere, was the right age to play the baby Jesus.
I have a lot of random ornaments on our tree, but I have more nativity ornaments than anything else. And I have a few nativity scenes I’ve collected for display. I've also had my grandkids reenact a scene from the nativity for our Christmas card the last several years. This year we had them play shepherds, in a real stable with a real manger.
During a past Christmas season, the Mormons put out another beautiful video, of “The Nativity.” If you don’t have a costume box and a script to use with your family on Christmas Eve, you might want to spend eight minutes watching this together. (Or watch it together after you’ve done your reenactment.) 


Speaking of nativity reenactments, a couple of weeks ago a group of YouTube musicians, including The Piano Guys, Peter Hollens, David Archuleta, and many others, plus the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, plus several hundred volunteers got together and created a video of the World’s Biggest Nativity. With over 1,000 participants, I think it surpassed the previous record by several hundred. The song they do is “Angels from the Realms of Glory.” Spend five minutes with it.


Then you really have to watch the behind-the-scenes video of how they made it, and why, and how the participants felt about their experience. It’s another nearly nine minutes, but worthwhile.

So, that’s 2:45 for “The Gift,” 7:52 for “The Nativity,” 5:02 for “Angels from the Realms of Glory,” and 8:47 for the behind the scenes of the world’s largest nativity scene. That’s—let me get out my calculator—24:26, so a bit less than half an hour. Treat yourself. On me. As my Christmas gift to readers of The Spherical Model. Merry Christmas!

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