Although I’m not one for seasonal decorating, one thing I always look forward to admiring around Christmas time are nativity sets. These miniature scenes depicting the night of Christ’s birth have always fascinated me. My Grandmother used to invite me over on the day in December that she would decorate her house for Christmas so I could set up the nativity set with her. She would remove the cumbersome manger scene and set it atop of her cleared off TV set and then allow me to carefully unwrap the porcelain figurines, removing the faded and yellowing newspaper from their bodies. I remember placing the wise men out first, aligning them towards the center of the scene but angling them aloof so as the shining star atop the manger was still in their peripheral view. Unwrapping the lambs and donkey, shepherd boy and Joseph and Mary… I would always save the baby Jesus for last, my small fingers tracing his serene cheek before placing him in his warm bed.
One of my favorite wedding presents from this past year was the gift of my own Nativity set. It is the only thing I am putting out in our apartment that counts as ‘holiday decor’ and I had a fun time reminiscing of setting up my Grandmother’s set while putting out my own a few days ago. While taking some pictures of the set, I tried to imaging myself in the place of the different characters.
What would it be like to be a wise man, glancing over the Virgin Mary’s shoulder into the face of the newborn Christ?
Or to be the shepherd boy, amazed at the instant calmness and oddly revering attitude of my sheep- previously bleating loudly and running around the surrounding fields?
Or to be Mary. Utterly confused and exhausted, but completely filled with delight and understanding, staring into the face of an extremely complex and holy being- her son and her King.
Maybe I’m being a little dramatic. After all- it’s just a bunch of mass produced wooden figures. But there’s something that always triggers emotions and questions, thoughts and reflections as I glance down at the mere representation of the most celebrated event in history.
Christmas is my favorite holiday and always provokes me into thoughtful thinking and contemplation while I enjoy its traditions and treats. This definitely won’t be my last post about the season.