I have a special nativity that my mother and her best friend purchased at an after Christmas sale in January 1971. That would've been just days after my first Christmas. It was made in Denmark and the little characters are so beautiful. Of course, when we were younger the beautiful and charming little characters were strictly off limits of our little chubby hands. My mom's friend has eight children and hers weren't so off limits. When she recently moved and downsized, she gave me her nativity. Me! She reasoned my mom had me and my sister-in-law and we could each have a sweet Danish nativity. What a special blessing!
This has become my hands on nativity that my children can play with. They can carry baby Jesus in the tiny pockets of their purses or have him drive a race car. This is just part of what makes Christmas time special. Immanuel. God with us. In a dump truck or in a bicycle basket. God with us. I think this is a great object lesson for a young child. Maybe even for a child at any age. God goes with us. Anywhere. Everywhere.
On Christmas Day I wrap up that precious tiny baby Jesus and place him under the tree. Christmas morning all our gifts are wrapped and waiting.
Before we tear into our gifts or uncover treasure in our stockings, we read the Christmas story. I give the children the box with the nativity in it and ask them to put it together as I read. Of course, they almost immediately begin interrupting with, "Where's Jesus?" and "Where's baby Jesus hiding?"
I stop reading as they search under everything for baby Jesus and ask them, "Do you think this is how the Jewish people felt before Jesus was born?" We talk about how they knew a king was coming but had no idea where to look or what to expect. We talk about the baby, the barn and the prophecies. It is a wonderful discussion. At the end of the Christmas story, I pull out the tiny present and give it to Palmer. We call it "The First Gift of Christmas."
As he places Jesus in the manger, the children cheer. We finish reading the Bible and pray thanking Jesus for being the ultimate gift of Christmas. The largest of gifts in the smallest of packages. The most costly of gifts in the most humble of packages. Immanuel. God with us.
In the beginning was the Word...and the Word was God...and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us...and we saw his glory...full of grace and truth. John 1:1 & 14