We had two nativity sets when our kids were young.
You know, we’re super Christian.
Well… maybe we had two nativity sets because their mom (aka me) has control issues.
We had a soft felt bean bag bottom set under the Christmas tree
and a fancy-painted ceramic set on the piano.
I expected the kids to play with the soft felt one so they would leave the fancy ceramic nativity set alone.
My nativity set.
How do you think that went?
Our seven-year-old daughter Kyler always wanted to play with the fancy ceramic one. She could not keep away from that nativity set! She would wait for me to be distracted. Then sneak into the creche and play with the figurines. When that high-pitched “tink” sound of ceramic hitting ceramic would reach my ears, I would gently remind her to play with the felt nativity set, not my fancy one. But it got to the point when it was a less gentle reminder and more full-on mom yelling from the kitchen.
“Stop playing with MY nativity set. You’re going to break baby Jesus!”
I hear myself saying it, and It’s almost like I’m outside my body watching this scene play out. I can’t stop myself from saying this ridiculous set of sentences to my seven-year-old daughter whose crime was wanting to play with figures from the biblical Christmas Story.
I yell down to myself,
“What are you doing?
Your daughter wants to play with, interact with, and experience baby Jesus. What’s more important?”
So she got to play with fancy-painted ceramic baby Jesus.
At some point during that holiday season, I walked into the living room and saw our daughter and her younger brother, who is on the autism spectrum, playing with the ceramic nativity set under the Christmas tree. There were a few additional characters in the scene.
Barbie was there with a felt lamb in her lap.
Lighting McQueen & Toe Mater were hanging with the Wisemen.
Her brother added his Thomas the Train engines around the fancy ceramic angel.
The Fisher-Price Noah’s Ark zebras, lions, and penguins were “in the fields” with the felt & porcelain camels.
And there, in the middle of it all, was baby Jesus.
This was not my expectation of a nativity scene.
But as Kyler played with this massive plastic, metal, and ceramic nativity set, I heard her telling the Christmas Story to all the toys and people assembled, including her non-verbal brother on the autism spectrum and his behavior therapist who was visiting our home at the time.
My expectation for the nativity set was to have it be a visual reminder of what the focus of Christmas should be. Some special. Some sacred. Something holy.
But my expectation almost got in the way of Kyler showing me the true purpose of the nativity set: to draw everyone in to see baby Jesus. Everyone has a place in the nativity set: Barbie, Mary, Lightening McQueen, the Magi, a five-year-old non-verbal boy on the autism spectrum, and me.
And you, too.
Who are you inviting into your nativity set this year?
Shine Bright 💡
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. John 14:27