The brightly wrapped box quickly caught the attention of our 3 year-old daughter and 17 month-old son. They giggled and tore off the paper to reveal the treasures within. And treasures there were – sixteen to be exact. Maureen had sewn together a nativity set made with cloth and felt and stuffed with fiberfill.
This took place in December of 1979. At that time most nativity sets were made of ceramic-type materials, easily broken and extremely unsafe for preschoolers. Maureen wanted our children to have a nativity set safe for play.
And play they did. Mary rode Donkey across the living room to Bethlehem with Joseph bobbing along beside her. Angel flew to the top of the stable waiting for Mary and Joseph. As soon as Mary and Joseph arrived at the stable, so did Baby Jesus along with Shepherds and Sheep.
The Wise Men and Camel always waited on an end table on the other side of the room. Why? Because they didn’t see Baby Jesus until he was over a year old.
Donkey and Camel fascinated our little son. More than once we had to stop him from sitting on them. He never understood why he couldn’t ride the animals like Mary and the Wise Men.
Every Christmas after that we set up Maureen’s nativity. The years passed. When our daughter and her husband gave us our first grandson, we gave them the nativity. Our grandson, and eventually a second grandson, played with Maureen’s nativity every Christmas.
Eventually the nativity was passed onto our son and daughter-in-law for their twin boys.
This Christmas Maureen’s nativity was returned to us. And as expected, some of the characters need slight repairs. But I’m leaving the set just as it is, worn over time from the enjoyment of children.
It’s now January and time to pack away Maureen’s nativity until next Christmas. But the love she sewed into her nativity can never be packed up and put away.