This particular tradition comes from my husband's side of the family. The kids always dressed up like shepherds, wise men, and Mary & Joseph, and re-enacted the story of the birth of the Savior as found in Luke 2.
We started up this tradition just a few years ago as my kids and my sister-in-law's kids got a little older. We open presents on Christmas Eve at my husband's parents' house. But before opening the presents, my mother-in-law takes the kids upstairs and dresses them up for the big performance. It doesn't take a lot--big shirts, towels or scarves around the head--to "magically" transform them from rambunctious little kids to quiet, almost reverent, well-behaved children (they do, after all, have an important role to fulfill!).
My husband's cousin reads from Luke 2 as the children re-enact their roles. The kids don't have to say a lot, since the words are read out loud. But they do act out the scenes, even placing a doll into a cradle to represent the baby Jesus lying in a manger.
It's enough to bring tears to my eyes now just thinking about it!
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