I love nativity scenes. Sometimes, I don’t put them away, but keep them to enjoy all year long. Some of my earliest Christmas memories are of playing with a plaster of paris nativity set placed within a wooden stable my father made early in my parents’ married life. After their wedding which was on Christmas Eve, they spent several Christmas’ apart as my dad joined the navy and my mom finished college and worked as a teacher. Christmas has always been a special time for them, and it rubbed off on me. The figures were scarred and nicked and in some cases, glued back together again, but I spent many hours arranging them just so around the Baby Jesus. Sometimes, they would circle Him, sometimes they arrived in a long line like a circus parade. I pulled dry grass from the lawn so that the sheep and camels would have something to eat. While I inherited the manager scene, those plaster of paris figures long ago disintegrated. I suppose those memories are what led me to begin collecting nativity scenes even before I had a family of my own. My first really nice set was purchased while on foreign study in Israel. It is made of olive wood, and I chose it because of the intricate carving. The cow and donkey look so real as do the tassels on the wisemens’ robes and the folds of Mary’s hair covering. I haggled with the merchant a long time, but ended up paying more for it than my student allowance could really afford. Now, more than thirty years later, I am glad I did for to me, it is priceless. I have another larger set bought at Sams. While the figures are tall, it has many small pieces including pots for water, sacks of grain, a well and a fire. It takes a whole table of its own to display. A younger version of me would have loved to have such a set to arrange. A smaller porcelain group from Hallmark goes on the mantel. Its colors are beautiful, but not historically accurate. Blond, blue eyed Mary kneels beside her fair haired baby. This year, when I took that set out of storage Baby Jesus had an accident. I store my nativity figures in old socks and Baby Jesus got stuck in his. When I yanked him out, he flew from my hands and fell on the floor breaking off his arm. I was sick about it and will have to get some glue and fix it. We had a pastor once who always preached that the true meaning of Christmas was not found in the cradle, nor under the crown, but at the cross. The real Jesus suffered much more than a broken arm; He was beaten and crucified for my sins. And for yours. Throughout this Christmas season, remember it is not just about the baby, but the man who lived, died and rose again so we might live.
PS Got new medicine today. Will start it tomorrow. Thanks again for your encouragment.