It was in 1998 when Eric D. Huntsman's family started having a daily Christmas devotional from Dec. 1 to Dec. 24. Initially, they used a small booklet an aunt had given him with a scripture, a carol and a Christmas story.
"Each evening we gather in the living room, light the candles of our Advent wreath and then read a story together, recite a scripture passage, and sing a carol before we join in family prayer," Huntsman, an associate professor of ancient scripture at Brigham Young University, writes in "Good Tidings of Great Joy" (Deseret Book, $24.99) where this list has been published. "Our children have taken to calling this routine 'doing Christmas,' which is fitting, because our tradition has helped us focus on the true meaning of Christmas during the entire month."
During the past dozen or so years, they have developed, adapted and changed their own "Christmas Season Book" and the readings and songs are drawn from a variety of sources. Here are suggestions for a scripture, story and carol from "Good Tidings of Great Joy" for each day in December leading up to Christmas and a few for afterward, too. The texts of most of these can be found on the Internet or in published collections.
Suggested story: O. Henry, “The Gift of the Magi.” This well-known story of a poor young couple’s love for each other is a nice way to begin the season as we start thinking of getting or making our own gifts for each other. We frequently shorten or summarize it for our children.
Suggested scripture: Moses 6:51–52, 57
Suggested carol: “Angels We Have Heard on High,” "Hymns," No. 203
Suggested story: “On the Symbolism of Christmas,” from “The Sixth Word,” by Sherry Dillehay, "Especially for Mormons," Vol. 2. This, or a story like it, can serve as a good vehicle for helping children understand the symbolism of so many of our Christmas decorations.
Suggested carol: “O Come, All Ye Faithful,” "Hymns," No. 202
Suggested story: “A Different Kind of Christmas,” by Lael J. Littke. This touching story is set in pioneer-era Utah and describes the love that a mother, who has lost her daughters, develops for her foster son.
Suggested carol: “Once in Royal David’s City,” "Hymns," No. 205
Suggested story: “The Cobbler and His Guest,” by Anne M. Boyles
Suggested scripture: Psalm 24:9–10
Suggested carol: "While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks," "Hymns," No. 211
Suggested story: “It Takes a Child” (unknown author). In this story a homeless man teaches a mother about unconditional love.
Suggested carol: “The First Noel,” "Hymns," No. 213
Suggested story: “Christmas Day in the Morning,” by Pearl S. Buck. Later in life, a man reflects about the first, true Christmas gift he ever gave.
Suggested scripture: Isaiah 9:6–7
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