Friday, December 19, 2008

Nativity Sets and Wonder and Awe

Yesterday, Katdish was having a blog surfing contest. Click on the title of this post if you wish to check out her blog. One of her categories was weirdest blog. I nominated the Cavalcade of Bad Nativity Sets.
Click here to go Cavalcade of Bad Natvity Sets
Now there are some really tacky Nativity Sets in this parade, though I actually liked most of them. Until recently, I never saw a creche I didn't like. You see, I have an aversion to creches which have animals representing the Holy Family, angels, wise men, etc. I especially dislike seeing the Holy Family represented as geese and a rubber duck. It is way too whimsical to be respectful. I don't mind whimsical nativities where you have children representing the Holy Family, angels, et. al. As a matter of fact, they touch me in a completely different way. Those help me remember that Christ said we must come to Him as little children. Those help me reflect on how I can do that. The fancier ones fill me with wonder and awe (yes, even most of them in the blog I nominated. If it weren't for the geese and the cat nativities, I would not have submitted it).
I have especially good memories of being a child on my way to and from school, passing a house that had beautiful light up nativity in front of their house. How I loved it! I remember walking up to the baby Jesus as a kindergartner, with my mom calling after me "Helen, I taught you better than to walk on the grass. You don't even know these people! They might be angry!". I remember a middle aged (probably thirty-nine like me) woman coming outside in her house dress, telling mom it was okay, not to worry about it, I have her permission to stay on the lawn as long as I like, and come as often as I like. That was so nice of her. Poor lady. I don't think she realized that I would take that as permission to come and kneel before the Christ child every day the nativity was up, every year through eighth grade. Actually, she never came outside when I was there again. But, God bless her, she never said "Stop it already. You are no longer small and cute when you do this! You are absolutely frightening!" I mean, think about it. I probably looked like I should be riding the short bus. And, while I could read and write well above my grade level, and could hold my own in math, I was rather slow socially. Obviously. And, of course, I thought it was every body else.
My poor mother. I was probably in Sixth Grade the day I came home half an hour late with my knees wet from the snow. It was the first day baby Jesus was up that year, and I had a lot to say. Mom was always a worrier, and mycoming home that late (very over protective) with pants wet from the knee down pushed her to the edge. She was yelling "Where were you? What on earth could you have been doing?" etc, I'm sure you all know the drill. And I look at her like she was.....well, acting strangely and say "Mom, didn't you know the Nativity on the next block was up today? Where else could I have been?" Of course, she tries to convince me that the permission given me was not for all eternity, but I said "Wouldn't they just say something already if they changed their minds?" Mom was exasperated with me, so I tried to keep my time with the nativity short from then on. On my way to school, I would wave to the Holy Family, then stop to talk to them for a moment on my way home. Yeah. I know. Short bus. I looked like a big dumb kid. But I didn't care. I wish I cared a little less now....
By the time I entered college, the family either moved, or didn't put the nativity out any more. Either way, by then I was too grown up by then to do childish things, and not grown up enough to do child like things.
I do still cherish these memories. Every time I see an outdoor Nativity, I reflect on how I can receive Him like a child now. I guess the answer is to just love Him without wondering how I am being perceived by others..
In case you were wondering, we do not put out an outdoor Nativity (my husband doesn't like them, and I have submitted to him on this matter), though I have Nativity suncatchers in my window displaying the story of that glorious day. I have not seen any children gazing in wonder, but if I do, I will be sure to tell them to get as close as they like, take as long as they like, and come as often as they like.
In interest of full disclosure, the set above is not the one I remember from my youth, but it is beautiful, isn't it? Click on the picture to see the rest of it. Oh, and it was not part of the calvacade I mentioned. And it didn't belong there.


katdish said...


I love your big, beautiful heart! Never lose that childlike sense of awe and wonder. That story made me teary-eyed. You're just awesome.

Beth said...

This is my favorite thing you've written so far. What a beautiful story, Helen. I love it. It reminds me of when Jesus was a kid and was teaching in the temple and his parents got all worried and started looking for him and when they found him, his reply was...Of course I'd be at my Father's house. Where else would I be? Duh! Ok, that's what I picture Jesus saying. He was a lot nicer about it, I bet.

I want to love Him without worrying so much how I look to others, too. Thanks so much for sharing this. Kathy's right. You're awesome. :)

Annie K said...

That was an awesome story and I wiped away a tear or two. You have such a great heart and I have to agree with Kat - don't lose that child-likeness. I think that is what keeps our relationship with Jesus so simple...

Mare said...

Gees, they said everything I was thinking. This was a wonderful story and certainly my most favorite that you have written. Thanks for sharing it! I also automatically began to think of the story of Christ in the temple.

It's good stuff we stories you lived out start reminding people of things Jesus did.

Thanks Helen!

sherri said...


You are so easy to love!

This was very touching.Thanks for telling such a beautiful story for all us.

Congratulations on the without wax nod!!!!!

I SAW IT FIRST! (This was the blogsite I told you all about on my SPOSP day! This is also the church I've visited recently in Nashville a couple of times. IT IS AWESOME! He's not your normal "mega church" leader. VERY HUMBLE and funny. Very...transparent.


Stacy from Louisville said...

Hey! Is this were the REALLY cool chicks hang out? Must be. It's Helen's blog. : )

Ryan B said...

Wow Helen. That was a really great story and I'm glad I got to hear it.

Thanks also for putting my blog on your blog roll. That's totally cool.

I too really enjoy nativity scenes. My family usually sets a little one out every year near our Christmas tree. I think that you should tell your husband your nativity scene story and then set up a really awesome one.

helen said...

Thank you for supporting me while I was writing. Knowing that all of you would accept me and love me as the goofy kid I was made this easier to share. Like I said, as a kid I didn't care how I looked. As an adult I kept thinking anyone reading it would think I needed to ride the short bus. Then I remembered there were you guys, and even if 99.9 percent of the world would think I sounded disturbed, you all would see me differently. Thank you for being people I can count on seeing the best in me so I can feel free to share. You guys are awesome!

Gabrielle Eden said...

That sounds like childhood...nice story Helen! Keep writing!

Matt @ The Church of No People said...

Good post Helen. Putting up our little nativity scene was always a special part of getting ready for the holiday. One year, we tried leaving baby Jesus out of the manger until Christmas Eve the way some churches do, but it looked strange to have everyone peering into an empty basket.

katdish said...

I love that story. It always makes me cry (in a good way). Thanks for sharing your heart with us. I bloggy love you, Helen!