Why I like nativities…

I love Christmas. I pretty much love everything about Christmas. Christmas is such an undeniably magical time. No matter how hard some might try to diminish Christmas, its power to transform us into compassionate neighbors, friendly strangers and giddy children rolls on, unstoppable like a mighty river. Yes, I love Christmas. The magic of Christmas is what I hope for every day of the year.

My wife and I have a rustic clay nativity that I love so much that a couple of years ago I began to leave it out and on display all year. She thinks I’m weird but I like seeing it there. To me it’s a reminder of Hope… of Love, and Joy. She’s tried to hide it a couple of times but I keep dragging it out and setting it up.

Nativities always remind me of the Christmas of 1977, Christmas was on a Sunday that year and along with it came the famous Blizzard of 1977 as well. It snowed nearly every day, temperatures stayed well below zero for 50 days and we thought the subzero wind chills would never end. We got out of school for over a month. It was a winter like no other in that part of the country. It was so cold for so long that the Ohio River froze over. Rare for any body of water but a mighty flowing river like the Ohio… it hadn’t been seen since the 30s. In spite of constant warnings and posted signs I have a picture that my Dad took of me standing center stage on the Ohio River.

There were always stories of people driving across and of people falling through but that didn’t stop them from trying. Around Christmas people began to put trees out on the ice, sticks and branches and some cedar trees decorated with various flotsam and jetsam started popping up out on the ice. Then, I remember someone placed an old plastic nativity out there on the frozen river. That nativity stayed there covered in snow and ice through all of January then February… and sometime in February when the ice began to break up… and buckle from the pressure of a river dead set on moving. That old nativity began to tilt and skew and warp and eventually sink. Slowly at first then soon all you could see of that nativity was a couple of heads caught up in the debris and ice jam. Then like so many Christmas’… that monument to the first Christmas, that picture of the greatest story ever told, sank, hopelessly out of sight.

So I’ve got my nativity scene up and there it will stay. And if you come to my house in June or August or November… there it will be; as a reminder of God’s power to transform us into compassionate neighbors… friendly strangers and giddy children.

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~ by SarahT on December 24, 2006.

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