Growing up in a minister’s family was a good experience for me. I have heard many bemoan the fact that they were preacher’s kids but not me. I loved it. I loved the church potlucks, the parade of people that passed through the parsonage doors, and especially the times I got to go along with my Daddy to meetings on my own because I was the youngest and everyone else was in school. I especially remember a meeting that involved a box of Chicken in a Biscuit crackers as a treat –funny how I think of Daddy every time I see a box of those crackers.
I have shared my favorite Christmas memories before and I smile when I think about our Christmas Eve traditions. I tried to create some similar traditions with our own boys. One of the best things that we do is put out a nativity set. Or in my case 10 or 20 nativity sets. Another collection of sorts I guess.
This year I decided to not pull every single decoration out and focused on just the basics. Our smaller house does not accommodate all of the decorations that I previously put out in our Iowa house so less is better in this case.
The one thing that I have always put out without fail is the nativity set that I grew up with. I am not sure how I was the child that was allowed to take the set as my own but I did and I am so glad that I have it. This is one thing that I am not good at sharing. I have never offered to share it with my siblings and while that sounds really selfish I guess it is the way it is going to be. I am not going to part with it.
The set was our set for as long as I can remember. There are some sheep, a camel, a dog who has to be leaned up against someone or something else because one leg is too short, and then the rest of the main players in the birth of Christ story.
But Baby Jesus is missing. Sadly Baby Jesus went by the wayside. I do not remember what exactly happened to Baby Jesus. You would think that is something I would remember. Regardless of what happened to the original Baby Jesus my Daddy came to the rescue. He crafted a manger out of balsa wood and a cotton ball became Baby Jesus.
Today I have the nativity displayed on a china hutch which houses my favorite teapots. I have added a “real” Baby Jesus but you know what? The cotton ball Baby Jesus rests on top of it because that is the way I remember it. The balsa wood manger is in pieces from many moves where movers were not as careful with packing a delicate item crafted from a soft wood but I still have the pieces in the bottom of the box. But cotton ball Baby Jesus still makes his appearance.
Some things change with time, don’t they? Children grow up and move out. Life goes on. But in my house the cotton ball Baby Jesus will always make an appearance at Christmas time. It just seems like the imperfect nativity set speaks volumes .