“Christmas is truly about God’s greatest gift: His son,” says Rachel Campos-Duffy in the delightful new book, All American Christmas, that she and her husband, Sean Duffy, recently released. It’s been a best-seller on a number of major book lists since its release in mid-November of this year.
The book contains the Duffys’ accounts of their own Christmases — both growing up and with their own family now (they have nine children) — as well as the essays, remembrances, traditions, playlists, recipes, and much more from many other Fox News personalities and staff.
In the following excerpt from the book’s “Joy of Faith” section, Campos-Duffy — who is of Spanish and Mexican descent — shares with readers the importance of Advent and of the Nativity scene in her family as a child.
And as she points out about the family life she’s created with husband Sean Duffy — a former representative from Wisconsin who grew up in the northern part of the Badger State — “Marriage, especially interracial marriage, is another way Christmas traditions evolve and meld into something new and beautiful. For us, that meant bringing Irish and Spanish/Mexican Christmas and Catholic traditions together.”
Read this account by Rachel Campos-Duffy from ‘All American Christmas’
Rachel Campos-Duffy in All American Christmas: Catholic traditions formed my earliest memories of Christmas and deeply shaped my family’s practices for the holiday.
In my childhood home, Christmas was a truly religious holiday, and we took very seriously the liturgical season of Advent. Those four weeks of preparation leading up to Christmas were a time when many parts of our faith really came into focus as we prepared for the birth of our Savior.
The Duffy family starts their Christmas early by celebrating the season of Advent. This photo and many others grace the pages of the book ‘All American Christmas.’
(Courtesy Duffy family/Jessica Kopecky)
Like many families, we had an Advent wreath and candles. Now th
Every evening during Advent, our kids really love turning off all the lights in the house and watching the flickering candles of our Advent wreath.
Our nightly prayers involve not just lighting the candle and praying but also singing, “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.”
During the Christmas season, an Advent wreath with candles like this one helps Christians prepare for the joyous birth of Jesus on Dec. 25.
Since none of us is a great singer, Sean has his favorite version, by Enya, ready on iTunes for our nightly family ritual.
I also take time at the start of Advent to set our family altar for the Advent season with the kids, placing a statue of St. Nicholas and three boxes representing the gifts that the Magi bring the baby Jesus. I also place a basket with a baby Jesus doll and a jar of hay next to it.
Throughout the season, we encourage our children to perform good deeds, and with each good deed, they place a piece of hay under the baby Jesus. The goal is to do so many good deeds that you prepare a soft bed for the baby Jesus in time for Christmas.
But of course, with each good deed, we also prepare our hearts.
Some of the Duffy children are shown honoring the true meaning of the Christmas season. This sweet photo is one of the many that appear in ‘All American Christmas.’
(Courtesy Duffy family/Jessica Kopecky)
In Hispanic culture, the Nativity scene plays a central and important role in decorating one’s home for Christmas. When I was growing up, my mother didn’t just put up the normal manger scene with the Holy Family and the Three Kings. She built the whole town of Bethlehem for us, complete with a river, mountains, the cave where the angels greeted the shepherds, and even Herod’s castle.
“We learned so much about the story of Christmas as we unwrapped the figurines.”
— Rachel Campos-Duffy
As a military family, we traveled extensively, and wherever we went in the world — Europe, Latin America, and the Middle East — my mom would make a point of purchasing something for our family’s Nativity scene.
As a result, our Nativity scene had an international flavor and it didn’t necessarily stick to the same time period. On the sawdust path that led to the manger, you might find a pilgrim, an African drummer, or even Tom from “Tom and Jerry.”
My mom would explain that Jesus was for all people and for all ages.
It was so exciting as a child to help my mom and dad set up the Nativity scene. There were rocks, moss, twinkling lights, and so many beautiful angels.
We learned so much about the story of Christmas as we unwrapped the figurines and many fragile components of this little work of art.