When I was a child, my mother would bring out the boxes of Christmas decorations. Among
all the beautiful glass ornaments, garland and string of lights there would be a small cardboard box. My mother would carefully open the box and cautiously unwrap each piece and set them on the table. The last item was the small brown cardboard stable.
I would watch my mom as she she arranged the Nativity scene. Inside the little, simple stable
was Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus lying in the tiny manger. In the background you could see the donkey. Circling around Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus were the sheep peacefully watching the baby Jesus. The last figures to be placed were the three Wise Men.
After we finished decorating the tree, my mom would place the Nativity front and center
on the floor at the foot of the tree. She warned us not to cover the Nativity with Christmas presents. I think she wanted to remind us the reason we celebrate Christmas. As a child, I thought now that the Nativity was in place, Christmas could begin.
The little Nativity was very inexpensive and was probably sold at the local store for
very little. However, to my mom, dad and us kids, it was a treasure to keep forever. Year after year, the little simple Nativity, would be displayed in my mom and dad's home. Over the years, it was carefully preserved.
After my parents died, I was given the Cardboard Nativity with the priceless figures. Each Christmas, I too,
carefully unwrap the Nativity and take it to a place of honor. When I look upon this family heirloom, I recall wonderful memories of growing up. It was a simple time. We didn't have a lot material things but we experienced a treasure house of love.
I am hoping to pass on the cardboard Nativity someday to someone who will also treasure
it. The value of an item is not in how much you pay for it, but who it represents.
This simple Nativity helps me to contemplate the first Christmas in a stable in Bethlehem where the Christ child was born in poverty while Mary and Joseph were filled with treasures of everlasting love.
"And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn."
May you and I make room for Jesus in the inn of our hearts this Christmas