With the Christmas season winding down, I decided to pack away the nativity scene with its porcelain figurines that had stood on my living room end table. Then my mind took a trip down memory lane. While I did not want to undermine in any way the wonderful significance of the crèche, I could picture the figures looking like my family members and other people from my past life.
I started my piece-by-piece packing with the manger and the Christ Child. I remembered my childhood in the 1950s. My loving parents wanted to be sure the little apple of their eye was warm enough during the winter months in our coal-furnace-heated house, so the second bedroom was closed off, and I shared the warmth of the master bedroom with them. I am sure Mary and Joseph were very mindful of their Infant Jesus’ comfort.
I could imagine a figurine of my mother as I gently wrapped Mary’s little statue in some soft tissue. My mother was a sweet, caring woman who was very protective of her only child. With her ready smile, she could come up with some extremely interesting, imaginative, and amusing stories right off the top of her beautiful head to keep me entertained. She would chuckle as she told them to me as I sat in her warm lap. I wonder if Mary told Jesus little stories. I bet she did!
Jesus had Joseph for protection, so I protected that little father statue very methodically. So many times I have wished that my Dad had not died of a heart attack when I was only 11 years old. I remember most about him his great sense of humor and his handsome smile. Often, I would follow him to the neighborhood corner store as he took a leisurely walk to get the local newspaper. A faithful husband, he was active in town government and a fraternal organization. A very responsible man, as was craftsman Joseph!
I grabbed a shepherd figurine to put into the storage box. I got thinking about the good shepherds in my life. I had some superb teachers who guided me in safe and productive ways through my school years, and even through fun extracurricular activities. I think many of us should take time to be thankful for those nurturing, generous shepherds in our lives! And I remember that the Lord is my shepherd every day!
The three wise men, before they found their nesting place in the box, reminded me of some of the wise people in my life who have gifted me with their advice, intelligence, and encouragement. Coming from many different backgrounds and locations, they inspired me to use my God-given talents. It is good to thank God for those wise people!
Last, but not least, I carefully placed the animals from the stable into the storage box. I thought about the pets whose company I had enjoyed throughout my life. Those cats and my dog, Candy, had comforted me, made me laugh, and taught me about loving. I am reminded how easy it is to take our pets for granted.
So, while the crèche has brought to mind the true joy of Christmas, it has triggered treasured memories of personal past experiences. May we never pack away our gratitude to our Loving God for all the blessings in our lives!