My mother loved Christmas above all other holidays. Living on a farm during World War II meant little money for non-essentials. I was about five. One pre-Christmas evening, I remember the following…..
Momma and Daddy were sitting in the living room listening to Christmas Carols on the radio.
The Christmas tree, we had cut from our woods, was standing in the corner, brightly lit. Momma had all the decorations on it and it was beautiful.
I was laying on the rug; coloring a picture of Santa in my Christmas coloring book that Grandma had given me.
I heard Momma say to Daddy, "You know what? We need a nativity scene for under the tree."
"Well, it's been a hard year," said Daddy. "We just don't have the extra money to buy one."
"I know," said Mommy quietly.
Then she clapped her hands and jumped up from her chair. "I can make one!" she exclaimed.
Momma ran into the kitchen and I followed closely behind her, caught up in her excitement.
Momma spread newspapers out on the kitchen table.
She got her paint set out of the buffet drawer and a bag of pipe stem cleaners. She dug around in the wastebasket, pulling out an empty cereal box.
Momma went into her bedroom and opened up the closet door. She reached up on the top shelf and pulled down a paper sack filled with scraps of material, from the dresses she had made for me.
Momma laid everything out on the kitchen table and thought for a moment.
She cut the top and bottom off a cereal box and painted it to look like wooden shingles. The empty cereal box now looked just like a little barn, with the front open.
Then Momma took the pipe stem cleaners and bent them into shapes like people. She then took scraps of the material from the bag and made robes to put on the pipe stem cleaners. They looked just like shepherds!
Momma took some beautiful silky blue material and turned one of the pipe stem cleaner people into Jesus' mother, Mary.
She put golden cloth on three pipe stem cleaner people and they looked just like the Three Wise Men.
Momma turned to me and said, "Honey, run to your bedroom and get that little plastic baby doll from your doll house."
When I scampered back with the tiny baby doll, Momma wrapped it in a piece of Kleenex and put it into a cradle she had made from match sticks. She put on her coat and stepped outside--I watched as she walked to the barn. She was soon back inside with a little bit of straw, that she put in the cradle, under the baby Jesus.
Then Momma opened up the buffet drawer and found some gold foil she had saved off a candy bar. She cut out a star-shape from the top of the empty cereal box and glued the gold foil onto it.
Momma and I carried all the pipe stem cleaner people and the little barn into the living room. Daddy looked up from his magazine and watched as Momma put the little barn under the Christmas tree.
She put all the pipe stem cleaner people in their correct places. Then she hung the gold star on a branch right over the little barn. She pulled a white Christmas tree light down behind the star. It looked like the star was shining!
Daddy got up from his chair and hugged Momma. "That is the most beautiful nativity I've ever seen," he said, as he kissed Momma on the cheek.
I got down on the floor and lay on my tummy so I could see everything close up.
It was the most beautiful nativity I've ever seen.
A nativity made from love and a desire to praise God's gift to all of us.
(I can still remember the feeling I had, when mother pulled that little piece of gold foil out of the buffet drawer. We used that nativity, under our tree, until I was about 10 years old. I can still see that home made nativity as if it were right here--right now.)