One of the traditions we have for Christmas started a few years ago at a Christmas dinner our church had for the women. At the dinner they read a story to us called "The Last Straw". The story was about a family with young children and how their mother got her children to get along during the month of December by having them do kind things for one another. As they did their service for their family members, the children got to place a soft piece of straw in an empty manger. Their mother told them that the more nice things they did, the softer the manger would be for Baby Jesus on Christmas morning. The story focuses on service and love in our homes and how we can focus more on Christ at Christmastime. For a gift that night at the dinner, we each got a copy of the story as well as a little wooden manger to fill with straw and every year we focus on filling that manger. As soon as the Christmas decorations are up, we read the story to the kids and talk about all of the gifts we can give to Jesus during the month of December. We encourage our kids to be kind to one another and to their friends at school and when they do service for someone else they get to put a piece of straw in the manger. I love walking by the manger at Christmas and seeing the pieces of straw inside. I love that instead of telling them they need to be good because Santa is watching, we focus on reminding them that they need to try and be more like Jesus. It's all about Christ and the gifts we can give to HIM for his birthday. My kids have already been filling the manger. Logan drew a baby Jesus and an angel to sit by the straw and manger to remind everyone what we need to do. We have already had lots of little conversations about Christ and service and having more peace in our home this holiday season. I love this little tradition and the way it reminds us about the true meaning of Christmas.