Sometimes, us mommas say ridiculous things. Our days are full and have so much on our plates. It is easy to speak without realizing the lessons we teach. I know this is true for me.
A few years back, as I was decorating for Christmas, I was shocked at the words I heard coming from my mouth. I was stunned at the possible ramifications and so I sought to make it right.
Here is what happened:
Not far from our front door sits a beautiful table. It is a lovely spot in my home where pretty things are supposed to sit untouched. Situated on a red wall is a wood and iron table that holds pictures of my children, a candle, and something seasonally pretty. I love that spot.
Because of that convenient location, my family will often leave something behind in that space and it drives me crazy. A set of keys, a form for school, a leftover wrapper, a mug, all abandoned there and sullying up my pretty spot. Parenting does not always allow for fragile decorations, but I gave it go nonetheless.
In October, I set a scarecrow there and the whole scene looks so harvest-y. In November, I take the scarecrow down and put a pumpkin with a turkey carved into it. It reads Happy Thanksgiving! And I tell my kids “don’t touch” and have them set their many things elsewhere. It is a battle… but I love to have a little corner that is beautiful in the midst of the fallout of family.
And then comes December. I put the pumpkin away and carefully unpack a simple but beautiful Nativity set. Onto the red wall table go the pieces and before I can catch myself, the words pour forth.
“This is momma’s and it is breakable!”
And in a moment of thoughtlessness, I have given my children lies.
Mommas, if we put out our Nativity sets as a decoration, how do I children learn that those pieces mean anything more than a scarecrow or pumpkin?
Those little nick-knacks so careful displayed on a table in my entry tell a story that is one of the most important tales I will ever tell my kids. And it is not for those who must stand a long ways off… No, this story is one to touch and hold and feel deeply. It is not breakable at all… It is, in fact, a story that shows the Divine Creativity of a God who is overwhelmed with love. He is willing to sacrifice that which means the most to Him to open His arms to you and me. This is not a story of cautiousness. It is, instead, gritty and real and meant to be held close. Our Nativity sets represent an opportunity for us to run with reckless abandon into the Kingdom of God. Those pieces show the way… The Way He used… The Way for us to find what was lost.
In this season of great love and beauty, let’s find a way to make the Christmas story real to our families. I cannot let a careless us of beautiful figurines stand between my children and the truth. Because nothing, NOTHING, is more important than allowing them to come to the edge of the stable and peer inside. Nothing is more important than helping them to understand that all of it is a lesson to us… the animals, the people, the baby… all of it points us to the truth of who God is and how we can find our way to Him.
Sometimes, we say things we want to take back. I needed to take back that “Don’t touch!” and change it into a “Come close.” When I realized we needed a change I sat right down and started to write. I created a set of family-friendly devotions that help us look at each piece of our sets as far more than decoration. I wanted to hear the Shepherd’s story, the Angel’s story, the stories of Mary and Joseph and the Wise Men. So I read and studied and created a booklet for parents to use with their children throughout the month of December. Each reading focuses on one piece, one person or animal present in the Nativity. And we do not set out that piece until we read that devotional. So, when we read about the donkey, we set out the donkey. When we read about the Angel, we set out the Angel. In doing this, our Nativity is active. It is revealing the story of Christmas, one piece at a time. In doing this, we are calling our family back to this important tale again and again throughout the month. (If you would like a copy of this, it is available for download on my product page. Just click here for more information.)
In the midst of this busy season, let’s help each other out. How do we teach this story well? What do you do with your family that helps to draw their attention back to the Biblical Christmas story? I am always looking for new things to try and would love to hear your ideas. Please leave a comment below with some idea to share… the title of a book… a family tradition…
What we say matters. Christmas offers us a message of peace and comfort. It is a time when we all need to take a minute and peek inside the stable and draw near to what we find inside. Let’s use our words carefully today and find simple ways to connect to the Christmas season ahead.