December 22, 2011

What's the Point?

"Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.
This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” 
~ Luke 2:11-12

(Warning: this post is full of bad photos. I tried, honest, I did. And I promise there's a good word at the end.)

It's Christmas time.

That's Christ-mas time. Ahem.

Although, it is getting harder and harder to figure that out. I have a challenge for you: go to your local superstore and head to the "Christmas" section. Now try to find the nativities. Or the mangers. Or an ornament that is even in a general shape of something slightly religious.

Disappointing - and frustrating - isn't it?

At the Samuels' house we don't make a big deal out of Santa.  We don't paint believing in Santa as something bad - rather, he is more like a non-issue.  We just don't talk about him at all, really.  The boys do get stockings but I don't think we have ever said they were from Santa - they are just 'there' on Christmas morning.

As a mom, though, I do purpose to not decorate with Santa.  Cookie plate in the shape of a chubby Santa face? I'll skip it.  Ho-ho-ho-ing ornament? Pass. Wrapping paper with cute reindeer and Santa hats? Not for me.  But give me a nativity and I am swooning. I love them - maybe even just a little too much (maybe.) There is something so peaceful, so meaningful, in the beauty of a simple nativity. And in a culture that increasingly tells us that talking about Christ at Christmas is taboo, I figure the least I can do is make sure my friends and family are reminded of the true meaning of Christmas when they come into my home.

Here are the nativities that I currently have around my home:

This is the first nativity I ever received.  It was from my parents, 21 years ago, in honor of the birth of our first son, Christopher. And, yes, he was born on Christmas.  And not in a manger, but with just about that much drama and excitement (but that's a story for another time.)

We bought this nativity set several years ago - it is by far the most expensive nativity we have because they are Hamilton-Drake collectible dolls. And in all honesty, I am not that crazy about it but I think it is my kids' favorite nativity: probably because it is the most realistic (even if the green shepherd boy looks like Peter Pan) and because it is the only baby Jesus that we can hide until he is "born" on Christmas day. It is the nativity that the boys have helped me set up each year, unwrapping each doll with (boyish) care - and so for that reason it has the most special memories.

I love my Willow Tree nativity. The pieces are so simple, yet so beautiful.  3 years back I bought the manger at Walmart and loved it.  The next year I went back to buy another one and guess what?  They are no where to be found :( We put this nativity front and center under our Christmas tree as a reminder that our focus is not the tree or the gifts but instead, our focus is the the babe who gave the greatest gift of all - himself.

This nativity was given to me by a friend who said she thought of me as soon as she saw it.  What a perfect gift and I will treasure it always!

This is my newest nativity: It is also by Willow Tree and I purchased it last year on clearance - after Christmas - and never even took it out of the box! So I was so excited to put it out this year and it was well worth the wait. The picture is really cruddy (sorry, I warned you) but trust me, it is beautiful!

No nativity collection would be complete without an outdoor light up set, right?  (Just smile and nod.) I've actually had this set for several years, but thanks to our very, very extended fall this year, Keith finally got around to building a stable for them to huddle in.  I was giggling like a little girl when he put it out (see, it's the small things that make me happy.)

Ok, I confess, this one is maybe over the top.  And slightly embarrassing.  It was a really, really good after-Christmas deal and I just couldn't pass it up (really, I couldn't) - but I think my husband wishes I had because it's kind of a pain in the patooey to put up and maintain through the wind and snow.  Thankfully, we haven't had much any of that this year (may I remind you that we live in North Dakota! Crazy...) so there's been little complaining. Yes, it's a little cheesy. And, yes, the sheep looks like he is a cyclops (he does have two eyes, honest.) But if any of our nativities are going to get noticed, it's gonna be this one.

The point is, I want my family and those around me to, well...get the point.  We need to be reminded that Christmas isn't about presents and Santa and happy holiday festivities!  If it was not for a baby in a manger 2,000 years ago there would be nothing to celebrate in December.  He was the beginning of it all.  He is the reason, the focus, the point of everything that we do.

Or at least, it should be.

At church this past Sunday, the minister quoted the following verse:

"While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn." 
~Luke 2:6-7

2,000 years ago there was no room in the inn for the babe  - the King of Kings. 2,000 years later there is still little room for him: certainly not in our schools, in our businesses, our government...and, sadly, many times not even in our lives. Even at Christmas.

My prayer for you is that you take time this Christmas, and each day of the year, to make room for Him in your life.  Let HIM be the point, the focus of your life.  No, there still may not be peace in the world, but I guarantee there will be peace in your heart.

And that is the greatest gift of all.

Merry Christmas and much love,

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