Phyllis McGinley writes about her favorite Christmas decoration, an old crèche with a lopsided double gate. Her Mom had found the nativity in the garbage of her neighbor’s house, and had decided to keep it. It had only three figurines at first: Baby Jesus, Mary and Joseph. Then over the years, the adult children added something to it every year—- at first, the shepherds, the Magi, the angels. Later on they became rather creative, adding unusual animals for the manger scene, including three little pigs. When her mother died, it was the only thing her daughters fought over. (They did end up working out how to share it.)
I have two favorite nativity scenes (though we own many.) One is the chipped plaster figure, spray-painted gold at some point, that was my parents’ only nativity when we were children. The other one was made by our children: the “manger” is a cardboard structure, with rocks glued to it – a school project when our son was in the third grade. It wasn’t originally intended to be a manger. The figures include Mary, Joseph and the baby Jesus, but a dragon and a griffin are also there because one year my daughter did lots of arts and crafts and thought these would round out the scene. Did I mention that Harry Potter is also lurking in the corner, looking on?
What are your favorite ornaments or decorations that come out every year? For most of us, our favorites would not win any prizes for beauty. In fact, the more scuffed and worn they are, the more they mean to us.
These symbols of love passed down from generation to generation, symbols of hope and resilience in the face of calamity, poverty, loss—-are a concrete way we tell the story of Jesus’s love, God’s love, and how that love and hope has been expressed in our lives, our parents’ lives and throughout the generations.
Blessings to all in this sacred season of Jesus’ love,