I packed up Nena’s nativity set this morning. Juanita Delbridge was my first wife’s centenarian grandmother who provided her progeny with china, tea sets and every manner of beautifully hand-painted ceramics. I have displayed the nativity faithfully since Fredrena died suddenly in 1999.
It occurred to me that the line of succession for Fredrena’s things should be to our children directly, with me not slowing it down. When I mentioned to Christine that I would love to send the set home to Oklahoma with her (where it originated) after this Christmas visit, she was visibly pleased. Here words were, “I’m honored to have this wonderful keepsake.” No mention was made that this was the child who snuck the Big Bird ornament off the tree each year for him to make a guest appearance in the crèche.
Was it symbolic that the larger pieces went into the box first? I tried to make it so in my mind. The camels and magi were at the bottom. Clustered together next were layers of animals, shepherds, angels and the holy family. Does it mean anything significant? To me it says that God is busy visiting this earthy world and blends in with the daily stuff. I know God is the God of all but if there’s a God bias, it’s for the day-to-day.
I don’t mind it that the holiday season is a time for tempered and intemperate sentimentality. I hope you had a time to laugh hard with others this season. I hope you had a chance to sing. I hope you had a chance to wipe tender tears away during a candlelit "Silent Night" or the Muppet Movie. I hope you had a chance to pass on a keepsake, or a needed affirmation, or bit of love.