Archive for Thursday, December 23, 2010

A love of Nativity scenes

December 23, 2010

The more that I thought about it, the more it became obvious. There is nothing about Christmas I don’t like. Each year I look forward to the holiday. It is a wonderful time of year when almost everyone is in a good humor and when people go out of their way to help those who are less fortunate.

I enjoy the wonderful decorations and the great food, particularly the cookies and candy. Everybody eats too much, but hey, there’s plenty of time to diet in January — or you can always wait until spring and work harder in the garden. Another thing I like is there are tasty treats at almost every meeting I attend.

I’m glad that our children and grandchildren are always home and it is a great family time.

I don’t bother myself with shopping because that’s always been Jean’s area. She’s a great shopper and I seem to be department store-challenged. Jean always tells me what we got for the children and grandchildren so I have some idea of what they are opening. We pick out our own gifts and we are always happy. Don’t feel sorry for her — she likes it that way and is always happy to go out shopping on her own since I would only impede progress.

In most years, I just carried the boxes containing our decorations from the basement to various rooms in the house. That, of course, didn’t happen this year. However, one of my goals for next year is to be able to climb stairs carrying boxes. Yes, I’m sure that I will accomplish that, much to Jean’s relief.

I enjoy the Christmas music, too. It is nice to be able to turn on the car radio and hear some quality music, not a babbling talk show host. To me, the traditional Christmas carols never get old.

I really like Christmas trees, too. It is enjoyable to drive around the area and see the many excellent home and business light displays. I used to enjoy being a judge for the Chamber of Commerce lighting contest. It was fun, but then it was tough to single out a winner.

I think my favorite Christmas decoration is a Nativity scene. While we have several, my all-time favorite is a small one that belonged to my family. When I was small, the official start of the Christmas season was when my mother put out the simple scene. Although it has little intrinsic value, it is priceless to me. It is one of the few objects that I have from my early childhood. If I remember correctly, my parents were adding to it each year, but they never finished it. It includes a stable, Mary, Joseph, the baby Jesus, one shepherd and a cow. I have never looked for additional pieces — I always thought it was symbolic of their lives ending far too soon.

I found that Nativity scenes have been around for a long time. I read that Nativity scenes may have originated as early as the 13th century in Italy. One source said the Germans were displaying Nativity scenes during the Renaissance period.

I have heard Nativity scenes referred to as “Nativity crèches” and I just learned that crèche is a word meaning “manger.”

After World War I ended, the displaying of Nativity scenes became popular. There has been growth in the number of living Nativity scenes, too. I saw the story of Christmas a few years ago at the Crystal Palace Cathedral in California and it was breathtaking.

Yes, I liked the professional Nativity scenes, but most of all I really enjoyed the ones my daughters took part in when they were little. Depending on the size of the class, there were shepherds, wise men and livestock, all nervously trying to do their parts correctly.

I enjoy Christmas and I really wish the feeling of good will would continue all year long. Certainly, the needs are often as great in July as they are in December. Maybe we should all promise ourselves to celebrate Christmas all year long. Wouldn’t that be the best gift that we could give?

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