Becoming Kindred Blog

The Unusual Nativity; A Christmas Memory

I've been trying to write some of my memories down both for myself and for my girls to have one day. I wrote this last year as I prepared for my first Christmas away from my family and I thought that I would share it here.

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As we were setting up our nativity(s) the other day, I was remembering our family nativity from my growing years. I think that perhaps many people who saw it each year as it was proudly displayed next to our Christmas tree must have had a bit of a chuckle. But to my young eyes and heart, it was beautiful. Mary and Joseph, the shepherds, and wise men were an assortment of Barbies and funny plastic dolls. My mother made their robes and head coverings so that you would never have known their other life. The wise men came bearing carefully tinfoil wrapped gifts. I remember a brown dressed shepherd (I think he may have had a tinfoil staff) but I don’t remember any sheep. In one corner, a three legged, one eared tawny cow who was much loved by my brother Jordan placidly watched the activity that took place in that busy stable and in the other corner, the three spirited plastic horses belonging to my three sisters stood; one had its tail held on by tinfoil inside as it had been broken at some point. A china dog stood sentry at the doorway and a fuzzy monkey kept a pair of porcelain chicken salt/pepper shakers company in a bed of vines. On each corner of the roof of the log stable that every year reminded us of our brother Shay who built it before he died, there rejoiced two little precious moments angels belonging to baby brother Jerrod who loved angels. Baby Jesus himself spent most of the year tucked inside Mom’s dresser drawer of treasures. He was a special gift from my sister Sarah. I think he may have been created to be Baby Moses for his manger was actually a soft little Moses basket out of which only his happy face peeked; he was also a good deal bigger in proportion to Mary and Joseph as they stood proudly over their son.
Each year as we put the pieces together by the tree, I always felt a contented glow in my heart; it really was Christmas. That was our nativity until I was about 10, when Mom got a beautiful ceramic one. It was lovely, painted with rich colors, and it also fit well in Shay’s log stable. But, I loved that old nativity that we could crouch around to play with and tell the story. Like all the characters in the very first advent, each one was placed in the stable with a tale to tell. And like the Christ child born so long ago, it was real. No fear of damage or destroying of its beauty. We knew each piece well; many of them were collected out of our toy box or off shelves for Christmas. It was something to hold on to, a representation of our life, of our story as a family that was fittingly tied up into the story of Jesus.
Even if I tried, I couldn’t replicate the nativity of my childhood for my daughters and I don’t exactly want to. But I hope that they will see the same story of Jesus as we live life together. I want them to see the realness of Christ, God with us, and that he is real and present in our imperfection, our messiness. That as we have read and talked about so many times, Jesus is our hope, our peace, our joy, and our love; His story is our story.

What is your favorite Christmas memory?