Every year as child, I looked forward to December 1st. My family started the tradition of burning a candle, one number per day until Christmas. We pulled out Christmas decorations and the house transformed into a magical place. But my VERY FAVORITE thing about December 1st was my hearing my mom read "The Last Straw"by Paula McDonald. Back then, it was simply on a piece of paper, bent and wrinkled from years of reading it. Since then, it has been made into a book and it is my favorite picture book. How in the world, I didn't mention this in my last post of favorite Christmas books, I don't know!
In a nutshell, the story is summarized by Amazon this way:
"Christmas is supposed to be a season of love, warm feelings, and happy hearts. But with the Children's constant bickering, pretty packages and a sweet-smelling tree don't come close to filling the McDonald home with the true spirit of Christmas. Then mom remembers an old tradition of building a soft bed for the Baby Jesus, one straw at a time. Each time someone secretly does something nice for another family member, he or she gets to add a single straw to the manger. Soon the children's quarreling and negative feelings subside and the homemade crib is overflowing. But for one family member, a required act of kindness becomes more than he can take. The Last Straw is true story. The McDonald kids are now grown, but the story lives on in other homes around America, where the tradition of putting straw in a manger is a cherished way to teach youngsters the real meaning of Christmas. So gather your loved ones around and share this heartwarming story about how one family rediscovers the true spirit of Christmas. It may forever change the way your own family celebrates the holiday season."
What I loved most is that my family then each put our names on a folded piece of paper and put them in a basket. We would draw another person's name and they would become our secret pal for the week. The week was full of beds being made, treats left out, sweet notes, glasses of water by the bed side, and whatever other creative things we could come up with. The next week we would re-draw names and start again.
I remember so fondly this month as we grew closer as a family because of the last straw activity my mom made a tradition. My kids love it as well! So I highly recommend it to anyone wanting a little more Christmas spirit in their homes this holiday!