The Nativity Set
Three-year-old Elizabeth watched as her mother arranged the ceramic nativity set on the low table in front of the sofa. Her mother had made the set many years earlier. Each year she told the children that she had painted each figure. Then she reminded everyone to be very careful because the figures could be easily broken.
Elizabeth loved to look at the figures, especially that of the baby Jesus. One day, she picked it up and held it reverently.
Mother walked into the living room at that moment. “Elizabeth, those pieces are breakable,” she gently reminded her.
Elizabeth carefully replaced the figure. “I know, Mommy.”
Each day, Elizabeth was drawn to the nativity set. She frowned when she noticed that the camel couldn’t see the Christ child. She moved the camel closer to the manger. Then she saw that the Wise Men, shepherds, and other animals couldn’t see Jesus either. She set the manger in the center of the table with all the others surrounding it.
She smiled. That looked much better.
When Mother saw what Elizabeth had done, she explained again how special the nativity set was and then replaced the figures in their original places.
The next day, Elizabeth stared at the nativity set. Once again, she set the baby Jesus in the center with Mary, Joseph, the shepherds, Wise Men, and animals looking on.
When Mother walked into the room and saw the nativity set, she wasn’t happy. “Elizabeth, I told you—”
“Don’t you see, Mommy?” Elizabeth asked. “Everyone wants to see the baby Jesus.”
Tears rolled down Mother’s cheeks. “I see, Elizabeth. I finally understand.” She kissed the top of Elizabeth’s head. “We’ll leave it just as it is.”
In the years that followed, the nativity set was always grouped as Elizabeth had arranged it. Jesus was in the center, where everyone could see Him.
Gift Tags and Ornaments
To make Christmas gift tags and/or ornaments, you will need: scissors, heavy paper, ruler, old Christmas cards or wrapping paper with pictures you can easily cut out, glue, marking pens or crayons, a hole punch, and yarn or string.
Cut the heavy paper into rectangles about 2″ x 3″ (5 x 7.5 cm).
For each tag, cut out a figure or scene from the old Christmas cards or wrapping paper, small enough to fit on one side of the rectangle, and glue it on (see illustration).
Ask an older person to print To: and From: next to the picture, then punch a hole near the left edge of the tag at the corner or middle (see illustration).
Thread a short piece of yarn or string through the hole and knot the ends.
Cut out small figures or scenes from the old Christmas cards or wrapping paper.
Glue as many as will fit on pieces of heavy paper, then cut each one out.
With an older person’s help, punch a hole at the top of each ornament where it will hang the best (see illustration).
Thread a short piece of yarn or string through the hole in each ornament and knot the ends.
Hang the ornaments on your own tree or give them as gifts.
The Christmas Story
Illustrated by Jenny Lynn Esplin