People have different things that they always to at Christmastime, traditions that they follow. For some people, it may be as simple as always exchanging gifts. For others, they may have lists of cookies to make every year, a specific place for each and every decoration, and special meals to prepare and share with others. Growing up, my family tended toward the latter.
One of my most prized Christmas decorations is a paint-your-own nativity set that my father had given my grandfather one year. Grandpa enjoyed painting it so much that the next year, he bought and painted a set for each of his five sons. Years later, shortly before my husband Karl and I were going to be married, my widowed grandmother was on hospice, diagnosed with terminal cancer. She began going through her things and listing what she wanted to go to whom. She decided that she wanted Karl and me to have the original nativity set.
This was and still is an incredibly precious gift to me. As a child and even now, I always loved setting up the pieces of the set and seeing the matching ones at my grandparents’ and aunts and uncles’ houses. It was also rather emblematic of our family’s focus during Advent and Christmas. While we did do the whole cookies-decorations-visit Santa-give and receive gifts thing, my parents always made sure my sister and I knew that Christmas was about Christ coming to seek and save those who were lost in the darkness of sin, ourselves included.
Why lies He in such mean estate, where ox and ass are feeding? Good Christians, fear for sinners here the silent Word is pleading. Nails, spear shall pierce Him through, the cross be borne for me, for you. Hail, hail the Word made flesh, the Babe, the Son of Mary. (from What Child Is This?)