CMDS Teachers, Staff Share Christmas Traditions

As the rush of the holidays comes closer, Barbara Jo Dean began asking herself – and prompting others to ask – this question: Does our world need to be smaller?
Mrs. Dean, who teaches PK at CMDS, had this to share.

CMDS PK Teacher Barbara Jo Dean

Have we not become addicted to just one more transaction, one more Google search, online sale or essential item with free shipping? We can tie up all our loose ends online and many of these are necessary; but by the time this happens, did we make eye contact with our children? Do you really know how they felt about their day? Have we taught them something or shared a bit of treasured personal history with them that no one else can tell them?
I have always believed our God created this world for relationships, which require people in the flesh, audible voices, eye contact when possible, and hopefully, His precious spirit reigning within and over. May your worlds be slightly smaller this Christmas season as it makes room for the most essential: the love of your Heavenly Father pouring into your most cherished earthly relationships.

With these thoughts in mind, we asked some of our faculty and staff to share some of their own Christmas traditions, both in the classroom and in their homes. Here are some of the ways CMDS teachers slow down at Christmastime, make their worlds smaller and focus on Him.

“My family uses a Jesse Tree to help connect the events leading up to Jesus’s birth to the traditional custom of decorating a Christmas tree. We have a small tree and we read a story a night and hang the corresponding ornament. We use the book “The Greatest Gift” by Ann Voskamp. There are also some great free resources from Faith Family Gateway using The Jesus Storybook Bible with the free corresponding printable ornaments. I’m using these in my classroom this year, and the students love it!”
– Ruth Thompson, 4th Grade Language Arts

“I share the story of “Why The Chimes Rang” and the children tell me what truly are the gifts for Jesus that he wants us to bring. They love the story of kindness and sacrifice!”
– Cheryl Bryant, Bible

“Our family has a cookie decorating day. We bake and freeze cookies in advance so on the big day we are just focused on the fun of decorating and of course eating our favorite cookies. Although most of the children in our family are now adults, they still love this tradition.”
– Nikki Walker, EEP Administrative Assistant

“I read “The Lion Witch and the Wardrobe” to the class starting in early November, finish it the last week before we break for Christmas and end with a Narnia Party. I also show the Advent Project each morning, which is wonderful. It includes scripture, music and art.”
– Leslie Morgan, 1st Grade

“My grandparents taught everyone in our family a line dance to Jingle Bell Rock that they learned in their youth. Every Christmas Eve, we open up their record player and put on the 45 of “Jingle Bell Rock.” As a family – with ages ranging from 89 to 10 months – we dance around my grandparent’s carpet listening to the record play. I love this tradition and even though times and music technology has changed, we still use the record player and the record. It wouldn’t be the same without slowing down and letting the record player do its job.”
– Alissa Abercrombie, Director of Curriculum

“There is a picture book version of the contemporary Christmas song “Mary, Did You Know?” The song and the beautiful illustrations tie the nativity scene to the miracles that Jesus performs as an adult. I read/sing this book to the Early Childhood classes and 1st Grade; they seem to love hearing it each year, and by first grade can usually sing along with the book. They also ask for the book to check out all through the school year.”
– Debi Gray, Librarian

“In my family, we have always put the manger scene in place before any other Christmas decorations to remind us what Christmas is really about. I do this in my classroom as well. We put the manger scene up during devotion and read the Christmas story before any other decorations are brought out.”
– Carol Deaver, 2nd Grade

“My family loves to play games during the Christmas holidays. All the phones are put away and we are engaged in a few moments of laughter and fun! We draw names and put a limit on gifts to cut down on the stress factor. During holiday meals, I like to ask the older members of my family questions about life when they were young. Everyone present hears a good story from the past and we almost always learn something we never knew! After our Christmas Eve meal, we go to “come and go” communion at the quiet little country church I grew up in. It is so precious because we have knelt at this altar our entire lives.”
– Barbara Jo Dean, PK

Christ Methodist Day School opened its doors in 1958 to 75 kindergarten students. Since then, CMDS has stayed true to its Christian elementary school roots while continuing to thrive as one of the best private schools in Memphis. Come see why we are the primary choice for so many Memphis families.


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