I have four nativity sets that I love for different reasons.
Two of them get packed with the ornaments so I knew where those were.
The finger puppets that I had bought at 10,000 Villages when Ravinia was one or two and I was volunteering there, spending two hours in the afternoon once a week while Ravinia slept in the back of the shop in her stroller/car seat. They’re so perfect for playing with the littlest ones.
The Playmobile nativity is for four years and older, and ever since I read Ravinia a story about a little German boy who looks not for presents but for the nativity, for Jesus under the tree, we have kept that set up, a toy unwrapped, to play with any time, under the tree.
Playmobile came out a few days ago and I set up its paper backing. I didn’t unpack all the pieces from the plastic bag though. Just slipped a few missing pieces that had been found through the year back into the bag. Yesterday the neighbor girl who comes for language lessons delighted in unpacking and playing with the playmobile nativity. I remember there was a lot of conversation between the wise men about traveling together, and being needed to read maps, and flattery.
The simple Precious Moments glass figurines of Mary, Joseph, and a baby-filled manger are also special to me, because my mom gave them to me one year shortly before her death. Clear glass and thick, they shine when light passes through them. They aren’t for playing with by little hands, but they make my heart young again when I gaze on them and mother’s love wraps them round.
But this year I was worried about having lost the nativity set that I was the one who got to unpack in my childhood. Didn’t know where that shoebox was. I had wanted to set it up even before we got the tree, even before Thanksgiving. It is a special set to me because it is the set I grew up with. I had to wait to inherit it after Mom died because she had loved it too. All the other nativity sets were wonderful, but this one plays Silent Night, this one is still the most beloved.
Finally it too was found in a bigger box with ornaments and Christmas linens that hadn’t been fully unpacked. I rejoiced. I set it up in the more formal room, next to the advent candle wreath, and a card I had made when Ravinia and I happened upon the card making time offered at the library.
Angels out, rejoicing already though unseen by the humans in the story.
Kings already on their way.
Shepherd and sheep out in the field.
Mary and Joseph making their way to the stable.
“Where is Jesus?” my neighbor girl asks.
“I hid him, since it’s not Christmas yet.”
“Yes, but where is he?”
“You want me to tell you? But then he won’t be hidden anymore!”
I relented and showed her, pulling the string for the music box at the same time.
We have been busy.
We have baked and we have eaten.
We have gone to concerts and we have stayed home.
We have watched Christmas movies and crocheted presents.
We have squeezed school work around Christmas parties.
We have shopped and wrapped and mailed and exchanged and we will do more.
We have worshiped at church and in the stores and in the car and in the routine slightly off kilter but always, always righting itself when I look to him who is my source for Love, for Power, for Control because if he is All and in All then I can trust and take joy and rest in my weakness connected to his strength.
He might be hidden from view now, but I know where he is.
He sends me blog posts from faith writers that bring me back to Truth.
He gives me new thoughts and encouraging love from the people with whom I live.
He gives me ideas of what to make or give to the people he has given me to love.
All thanks and praise to Him!