“Our Scripture Tree,” Ensign, Dec. 1979, 60–61
When Dan and I overheard our children anticipating their Christmas gifts shortly after Halloween, we realized we needed something to focus their attention on the true meaning of Christmas. Concluding that our family emphasis should be on the gifts our Savior has given us and the gifts of the Spirit he would have us develop, we decided to hang a scripturally oriented advent calendar and involve the children in using it each day.
I placed a white, felt tree in the center of our wall hanging, with the words “Not as the world giveth” (John 14:27) cut from felt and glued around the tree. Next, I sewed twenty-four pockets, one for each day of December until Christmas, to the wall hanging, above and below the tree. A theme-related scripture for each day was typed on a white card and inserted in the pockets. (A bit of Christmas decoration on each card helps with the Christmas spirit also. Ours were made festive, but it takes time.) Then a theme word from each verse of scripture was also typed, glued to a strip of red ribbon, and attached to the tree.
Our two children, Daniel (eight) and Laura (six), took turns lifting the scripture from the appropriate pocket each morning. Then they found the key word from those displayed on the tree. After family prayer we discussed how we could apply the scripture in our lives; then the child attached the scripture to the center of the tree to serve as a reminder for the day. At dinner each night we were supposed to tell what we did during the day to try to make the scripture a part of our lives.
While we sometimes failed to follow-through, it was a rewarding experience to discover and share a new “gift” from the Savior each morning. Those days we consciously acted on the scripture, we truly basked in Christmas joy and spirit. Next year I may wrap tiny surprises and place them in a prominent bowl to help our children remember the daily challenge and provide incentive for alert and positive responses at dinner.
Preparing this advent calendar and combing the scriptures for scriptural “gifts” was fun—but did take hours of time. It pays to start early. Sherlene H. Bartholomew, White Plains, New York