Today we got rid of all the pumpkins that had been carefully arranged on our front porch and began stringing Christmas lights. We put up the long, sweeping garland and dug out bows and wreaths. Best of all, I unpacked my collection of nativity sets and put eight or nine of them on tables and shelves around the house. I have a lot. Every year our church has a nativity display - over 400 nativity sets of every type imaginable: wood, metal, ceramic, crystal, paper mache, fabric, from the fancy to the home-made, big ones, little ones, old ones new ones. So over the years I have gotten several sets to share for that event. Then of course I've had lots of them given to me as Christmas gifts by friends and family who know I collect them. So I have several big plastic tubs in the basement where I keep them carefully packed away all year just waiting for the Christmas season. Having my house filled with these lovely reminders of the sacred birth of the Savior goes a long way to helping me remember what Christmas is truly supposed to be about. Granted, Christ was not born on December 25. Scheduling the celebration then was just the Roman's way of incorporating Christian beliefs into pagan practice. But I don't care if the date has more to do with winter solstice or Saturnalia. The meaning I hold in my heart remains. Other people may decorate with snowmen or Santa clause or reindeer or glittery gifts. For me, it will be images of the Nativity.
There are a multitude of traditions about sacred births. Some say those other stories are proof that the idea of a virgin birth is a bunch of hooey that is made up by people. Others say they are evidence that something spectacular did happen, even though the telling of it got warped and twisted down through generations.
I don't need a rational explanation. I accept the Jesus Christ is real. I accept that he was born to Mary, the biological as well as spiritual son of God the Father. HOW that happened is not important to me. But it happened. And because of that event, my life, and the whole world, will forever be changed.
So I begin celebrating the days leading up to the sacred Nativity. Hopefully this year I will be able to keep things in perspective, show more love, feel less stress, and care about the things that really matter. That goals is what looking at all these nativity scenes helps me to remember.