When I was young my grandparents had the most beautiful Crèche I had ever seen. Each Christmas season they would set up Wiseman, multiple animals, a Sheppard, Joseph, Mary and of course the most precious baby Jesus you have every seen on their console TV. . I loved this nativity but alas I was never allowed to touch it.
“It is too special,” my grandmother would say.
“It's cost was too high for a child to touch,” my grandfather would grumble.
But I, when know one was looking would sneak a cuddle with baby Jesus.
I was reminded of this memory just a few short weeks ago while out shopping at Costco with a friend. There they had a Nativity scene all set up. It had everything as I remembered my grandparents having, but was even more beautiful. The Wiseman wore what looked like spun gold robes. There was a Sheppard and animals galore. Joseph's clothes shimmered in the light, Mary glittered in all her holiness and baby Jesus, well, and he was the most peaceful baby you have ever seen. This Crèche brought back all the memories of my childhood Christmas’s. I could invision just where I would put it. I would set it up on the beautiful fireplace mantel my late brother had made us. I would place each piece lovingly in their spots and of course give baby Jesus a quick cuddle. I would make sure it was far enough back so little hands would not get too close. There it could sit in all its glory and we could all admire it from afar. I looked at the price of the Crèche then at my cart of groceries, trying to decide just what we really didn’t need so I could buy this most beautiful Christmas decoration. But, I didn’t see any way to convince my family that we didn’t need to eat for that week. So suffice it to say I went home with a bag full of milk, eggs, cheese and chicken and no Crèche.
Last week I decided it was time to get the Christmas decorations up. So up came the boxes from the basement and the job started. My youngest daughter came home from school and saw the boxes.
She excitedly asked “is my favorite decoration out yet.
“Not yet” I said.
Then again on the second day she came home and asked, “Is my decoration out yet”. “Not yet” was my reply.
Finally, on the third day she came home just as I was at the bottom of the last box. And there it was. We together lifted out the box, which was getting tattered from over 20 years of Christmas and a few kids. We carefully unwrapped each figurine. Then found the manger and she set up her favorite Christmas decoration, the nativity scene. I watched her work and was reminded of the Crèche I admired just a week ago. Ours was a third its size. There was only one animal left. All the Wiseman have had their heads glued on more times then I care to count. Joseph's coat had lost all its shimmer from one two many little hands and Mary no longer looks holy with a chip on nose. Baby Jesus has lost all of his peacefulness, actually he no longer had any paint left on his face. I guess it was one too many cuddles. I watched for a few minutes more then gave a sigh and walked away.
Later on that evening I found the youngest laying on the floor playing with Joseph, Mary and Jesus. I looked at her cuddling Jesus, and it was then that it hit me.
The miracle of my Lord's birth was not gold spun, or glimmery and shinny. He was born in a simple stable He was born so all my chips could be mended, to heal me of my brokenness. Jesus came to earth to cuddle Me, to make me feel wanted. He came to earth so I could live, not to be admired afar but to be touched and played with, and loved.
My grandparents have since past away and I don’t know what ever happened to their Crèche. But I now know that my ‘discounted, after Christmas sale’ Crèche bought so many years ago is the most beautiful Christmas decoration my family owns.