As we draw nearer to celebrating the Nativity of our Lord, for many of us, there is so much going on. We have presents to purchase and wrap, baking/cooking/cleaning to do, extra events to attend with our children, decorating to do, and even more church services to attend! Everything clamors for our attention, and we are caught up in the wave of busyness.
This is the perfect time for us to pause, even just for a moment, with our children and look closely at the icon of the Nativity. We may have seen it many, many times; but now is the time to really look at it. Talk about a lot going on! This icon may appear serene, at first glance, but if one truly studies it, there is so much to see: and much to learn.
If you are unfamiliar with all that is depicted on the icon, a great explanation of the icon is found at http://iconreader.wordpress.com/2010/12/24/the-nativity-icon/. It may be helpful to read that explanation before looking at the icon with your children. Then, together as a family, visit http://www.antiochian.org/icons-explained-nativity for an interactive icon with brief explanations of each major part of the icon. There’s a black and white printable icon at http://www3.telus.net/public/josaphat/Newsletters/December_21th_Bulletin_extra.htm, with explanations, as well.
After reading about the icon together, you may want to allow your children to color their own copy of the icon such as is found at http://www.holytransfiguration-oca.org/icon16_nativity_christ.htm. You could do a Nativity icon craft such as is found at http://orthodoxeducation.blogspot.com/2011/11/christmas-orthodox-craft-ornaments.html. Whatever you choose to do, display the results in a place that reminds the whole family of what this celebration is all about.
Blessed Nativity Fast!