One of the things my husband and I bought with our wedding money over 18 years ago was a beautiful porcelain nativity set.
We displayed it every year for Christmas until our first born turned two.
That was the year we realized that while a porcelaim set was very beautiful, it was not very practical to keep little hands away during the entire Christmas season, especially since I was already expected our second child and was exhausted.
I did not want to have a home full of no-no’s for little ones. I wanted them to be able to touch and play with the nativity, act it out, make it real in their little minds.
That year we found a nice little plasticine set on sale at a craft store.
Our little 2 year old sat with Daddy and set it up that night. Daddy told him the story and he carefully set out all the pieces.
He was so taken by it that every day after that, he would go and move the characters around the stable and told the story in his own special toddler-speak.
A new tradition was born.
Now every year we pull out the plasticine set and Daddy sets it up with the children, telling the story of the first Christmas.
The year Pedro was two he was so taken by the donkey that every day he would sneak it out and take a nap with it. Somehow the poor donkey lost his ears.
It now reminds me of the set my parents had when I were growing up. They bought it 40 years ago from a catalog and it has seen many Christmas’s. It has been arranged and rearranged by many little hands over the years, children and now grandchildren.
If you study the picture you will note that there are no shepherds and the donkey is with out ears. All were lost or broken at some point over the years.
They now have a beautiful new Nativity set, hand carved from Israel. But they still display this one over the holidays as a reminder that the Christmas story is to be touched, felt and lived for it to be remembered.
What a beautiful tradition!