The Nativity has played a leading role in my family’s life story for many years. When my husband, Ed, and I were first married, we chose to make it the focal point of our Christmas celebration. We bought a beautiful ceramic nativity, and Ed built a stable from old barn wood. Every December, our family’s first Christmas celebration was “Nativity Night.” We snuggled together and read Luke 2 and Matthew 2. Then our children retold the story in their words as they placed the figures in the stable. Afterward, we sang a few Christmas carols and shared a plate of Christmas goodies.
Over the years, I have collected several more nativities to display around our home at Christmas. The one that used to be my mother’s stays out year-round. None, however, are as dear to my heart as that first nativity, which amazingly remains unbroken.
As a family, we’ve shared our love for the Nativity with others. Several times my husband has built a stable, added a nativity set, and given it to a sibling in our annual gift exchange. We’ve hosted birthday parties in honor of Jesus and shared with others rather than exchange gifts. Our family has joined other families in bringing the Nativity to nursing homes by putting on mini Christmas-story productions for the residents.
So, when I traveled home on the cold December night that I wrote about in today’s devotion, our daughter knew I would arrive home very late. She knew that my heart deeply grieved the loss of my youngest brother. She knew that the gift of coming back to a clean house, a simple tree, and our beloved nativity was the best way to show her love and support. She had no idea, however, how deeply it would impact me.
I left our nativity up until the end of January that year. It was a constant reminder of God’s presence, comfort, and love. When I finally put it away, I knew I had been profoundly changed.
When life gets hard, and we all know it does, I remember that Christ held me then, and he will hold me now. When others face difficulties or grieve a loss, I can not only share their pain but also reach out to them. I can consider their unique history and support them in ways that remind them of past connections with God’s love and support.
This December marks 43 years since we enjoyed our first Christmas nativity. It is nine years since my brother died. Early this month, my granddaughters came over to decorate and set up the nativity—the honor now belongs to them. Once again, I was taken back to that night of grief-turned-to-joy and smiled in remembrance of my brother, knowing he is in heaven.
My prayer is that Christmas will find you kneeling at a nativity, worshiping the baby Jesus, and finding hope in knowing that the Christ who died to save you is always there to hold you when you need it.
“Namaste, greetings, and good morning. My name is Sabita, and I am a regular reader of Mathillo Kotha, the Nepali edition of The Upper Room. I have been reading the devotional for two-three years, and it has helped me very much to grow in my faith. It has also helped my family to gather in one place and to fellowship.” Give to the International Editions of The Upper Room, and make a global impact.