27 Dec 2000
During Christmas for as long as I can remember, my family has had a nativity scene set up on some bookshelf—the three little plastic wise men, Joseph and the Mary whose arms broke off years ago, all surrounding the baby Jesus in the manger. There is always a candle behind it, representing the star of Bethlehem.
My mom likes to tell the story of when we bought it, when we were too poor to buy anything. The last store in the mall was closing on Christmas Eve, and she spotted it through the gate as it was being shut, and bought it with the last money we had. Those little plastic pieces were a gift from God. Now, we could easily buy a fancy new Nativity, but ever since then, it has represented His blessing to our family.
That year, too long ago for me to remember, we started a Christmas Eve tradition. Before we went to bed, my dad got out his guitar and quietly sang “Silent Night,” while my brother and sister and I slowly walked down the stairs in our pajamas, each with a piece of the Nativity. The oldest one got to light the “star,” with Mom’s help of course, and the youngest one place baby Jesus into his bed of straw. Then, in the candlelight, Dad would read the Christmas story from the Bible, we’d sing “Joy to the World,” and scurry off to bed.
When I was little, I loved the tradition. Later, around thirteen or fourteen, I decided that it was the most stupid thing I’d ever heard of, and I only participated grudgingly. But in recent years, I’ve grown fond of it again. When I was little, our ceremony was mostly just a reminder that presents were coming, but now, it serves as a true reminder of what Christmas is.
Now I’m 18, and Christmas has come and gone. I got some CDs, some clothes, and a zip drive for the dorm room. It occurred to me, though, that this was the first Christmas that we failed to keep our tradition. I don’t know why we didn’t do it. I guess we were busy with all the parties and plans, but that’s never stopped us before. I know that we had every intention of doing it, it just escaped us.
I did all the other normal Christmas stuff this year—the last minute shopping, helped carve the turkey, drank the Egg Nog. Still, it just doesn’t feel like a complete Christmas without our star of Bethlehem, and our plastic baby Jesus.