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A Most Precious Holiday Blessing

A married couple is reminded of the value of faith and family, thanks to a treasured Christmas gift.

Steve Garrington poses with the treasured Nativity set he shares with his wife.

“Will you set up the Nativity?” my wife, Linda, called from the kitchen. I could “smell” that she had her hands full with the Christmas baking.

“My pleasure,” I called back. And it really was. Our Nativity was one of the few Christmas decorations we’d had since we were first married 25 years ago. I would never forget the day it was delivered.

We were newlyweds in our first very modest apartment, and we couldn’t afford any Christmas decorations.

The future seemed so uncertain back then. Would I find a good job? Would we have children? Would we be good parents? I didn’t want to make any mistakes.

I was distracted from my worries when the mailman delivered a package covered in foreign postage.

“It says it’s from Italy,” I’d told Linda as I handed it to her. “We don’t know anyone in Italy!”

“That must be from my uncle,” she said, taking the package from me. “He was stationed there during the war.”

“Open before Christmas,” the package said.

Inside we found a beautiful Nativity. Each gold-painted piece had the word Italy embossed on the bottom.

“Oh, my,” Linda said. “What an extravagant gift.”

“It looks so elegant,” I said, turning the angel over in my hands. “What do you suppose it’s made of?”

“Porcelain,” said Linda. “Maybe painted glass. Whatever it is it’s very delicate.”

We set up the Nativity in a place of honor. It was the most precious possession we owned.

Every year after that we set up the Nativity with great care. I found a job; we had kids.
We made mistakes no matter how hard I tried to avoid them. But we’d made it through with God’s help and so had our Nativity.

As Linda bustled around in the kitchen, I got a stepladder out from the garage. I’ll arrange the Nativity on the mantel above the fireplace this year, I thought. It was amazing we’d had it so long without even chipping a single piece.

I brought the box inside and unwrapped the pieces. One by one I placed them on the mantel. Joseph, Mary, the angel, one wise man, two…

“Oh, no!” I said. The third wise man tumbled out of my hand—right onto the hard stone hearth below.

Everything seemed to happen in slow motion. I grabbed at the air, but I was too late. I braced myself for the sound of shattering whatever.

The wise man’s head hit the ground. But to my astonishment it didn’t break, it bounced—not once, but twice—and then came to rest on the carpet.

I picked up the tiny gold wise man I’d spent so many years handling so delicately—and gave him a good hard squeeze. Rubber. It’s made of rubber!

“Honey,” I called. “Come in here. I want to show you something.”

Linda came walking out of the kitchen, her hands covered in flour.

I held out the wise man for her to see. Then I drew back my arm and, as hard as I could, I threw it against the wall.

“Agh!” Linda gasped, covering her mouth in horror—and getting flour all over her face.

“It’s made of rubber!” I said, picking it up off the carpet.

I don’t know exactly how long we stood there laughing.

“And we always considered the Nativity so precious!” Linda finally managed.

“It is precious,” I said. Not because it was made from fine glass or porcelain, or came from Italy. But because of the memories we had made with it all those years.

We placed the wise man on the mantel. We’d thought our Nativity, like our future, was easily broken. But with God’s love protecting us we had always been resilient.

 

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