Thursday, January 17, 2008

The Nativity Set

(The following short story was written by my daughter as a gift for Daddy when she was 10 years old!)

One holiday season, the Miller family was very busy with decorating. It was December 12th and all of the Miller children were writing their Christmas lists. Chelsea, Andrew, and Jessica wrote their letters to Santa while Baby Scott sat on his mother's lap as she typed up the Christmas cards. Their father, Ralph Miller, hung the stockings on the fireplace and decorated the living room. There was so much to be done and everyone enjoyed this time of the year.

When Andrew and Chelsea, the eight year old twins, finished their letters and put them by the door, they ran into the other room. "Daddy!" Chelsea cried. "May we help you decorate?" "Of course!" their father answered with a chuckle. When five year old Jessica finished her list of toys that she wanted, she skipped into the living room. "Daddy, I want to put the nativity set on the mantle," she declared. Carol Miller and her children sat on the sofa and watched Ralph pick up their little girl and help her carefully put the set on top of the fireplace. "Now that she did that can we continue?" Andrew asked. So they did.

The next day the Millers went Christmas shopping after school. Carol got very tired from the long hours at the mall since her kids were complaining the whole trip. When they got home, the Miller kids ran up to do their homework while their mom laid down on the couch. She sighed and stared at the pretty fireplace with the family's stockings and tinsel. Her husband came in, lit the fireplace, turned on the Christmas music and sat down in the recliner to read. Then, Carol saw the pretty little nativity set sitting on the mantle.

She noticed the wise men looking like they just saw the King of kings and Lord of lords, for the first time. "Well that's who He is," she thought. The first of the magi looked proud as he set down the gold on the ground and bowed. Carol could just imagine him saying, "For the Lord of lords and King of kings!" The next wise man was holding frankincense in front of Jesus their Savior. The third king, crying while he handed the myrrh to Joseph, thought of the day when their Christ would be sacrificed. Carol sat up, took her Bible and read about the wise men who followed the star and traveled a long distance to visit the humble king in a manger. Then Carol felt less stressed and went to help her kids with their homework.

A couple of days later, the family went out to cut down a Christmas tree. It was cold, but they still had fun. Ralph tied it on to the van and they went back home to decorate it and bake Christmas cookies. While Andrew helped his dad put up the tree, the girls helped their mom bake. When the cookies were in the oven, they all went in the living room and decorated the tree with lights, beads, tinsel, and ornaments. Baby Scott slept next to the tree and he seemed to be smiling. They munched on cookies and had some hot chocolate while the children put the presents under the tree. The fire was blazing in the fireplace and the Christmas music was on and they were having a wonderful time.

Afterward, Ralph put the kids to bed and his wife rested on the couch with some coffee and music. She felt like she had caught a cold while they were out chopping down the tree. At that moment she saw her nativity set on the mantle. What she spotted first that day were the shepherds. Angels told them to go to Bethlehem to see the new baby boy who would rule over all people. So they obeyed and saw the "little Lord Jesus asleep on the hay." They didn't give him gold or silver but they gave Him their hearts and were the very first humans to preach the amazing news of Christ's birth. She wanted to be sure of her thoughts so she read everything she could find about the shepherds in her Bible. Now she felt happy, instead of tired, so she went to spend some time with her husband.

On the 19th, the family took out their Christmas books. "Mom, can we read some of the Christmas books together?" asked Chelsea. "Sure, while you do that I'll heat up some of those Christmas cookies we made the other day." So the twins sat down on the recliner and Jessica sat on Andrew's lap. Carol gave Chelsea Baby Scott, and the twins took turns reading their favorite Christmas stories. Carol sneezed twice while bringing in the cookies and cocoa. Ralph took a picture of the kids finally getting along and the couple listened to them read.

When Carol started sneezing like crazy, she took her temperature. She had a fever, so she told her kids when they finished that book, they had to go upstairs and get ready for bed. They finished The Christmas Carol and Ralph put the children to bed, while Carol curled up in a blanket and lay on the couch. Again she noticed her little nativity set above the fireplace. The angel was watching over God's Holy child. He looked down at the baby like a guard who would never let a single person harm Him. "Wasn't the angel's name Gabriel?" she asked herself. She wasn't sure, so she read the Bible to see when the angel first appeared. After that she fell asleep on the couch.

On the 22nd, the Miller children had off from school, so they plotted a Christmas party for Christmas Eve. When they told their mother, she shook her head. "Oh, I would love to do that, but I'm really feeling a little sick and it's too late to invite people over." "We'll clean up like crazy!" Andrew pleaded. "We can call people instead of sending invitations," Jessica added. Carol sighed, "Well, I suppose if you clean a lot today and then after dinner we can make some phone calls. We have to clean up for Grandma and Grandpa anyway." Somehow, it ended up that Carol did most of the cleaning and the kids did most of the complaining. "If you kids don't stop complaining, we aren't going to have a party!" she yelled. Her children moved a little quicker after that and before dinner the house was almost clean. While the kids played upstairs, Carol laid down on the couch again.

She saw Joseph, His earthly father, watching over baby Jesus. He was afraid when he found out that Mary was pregnant. An angel came to him and told him not to be scared because the baby she would have was from the Holy Spirit. So he took her to Bethlehem, his hometown, and searched for a place for his wife to stay since she was going into labor. All the inns were full, but one innkeeper offered them his stable. Joseph was a good man who would give of himself first before anyone else. "I'm glad I have a husband as good him." She thought as she sneezed. Then she took her Bible and read about Joseph. Ralph was asleep on his recliner, so Carol got up, kissed him and went up to their room and fell asleep right away.

The next morning, the family cleaned up like crazy. Their Grandparents were coming later on that day and they would have some guests the next day too. Carol tried to work her hardest while she was sick, but she probably took the most breaks out of the family. There were plenty of complaints, "Mommy! This is Scott's. Why can't he pick it up?" "He's just a baby, Jessica. Would you do me a favor and take care of it for me?" Carol answered. When the whole house was clean, the doorbell rang. Chelsea answered it. "Grandma! Grandpa!" "Hello!" Carol sniffled. "Oh, Carol! You don't look good! You lay down while we take care of the kids," Grandma answered. "Thanks, Mom!" Carol yawned, heading toward the couch. "Make yourself comfortable" she added as she collapsed on the couch and looked at her comforting nativity set.

There she saw Mary, the chosen mother of Jesus. She was looking lovingly down at her baby boy. Carol could imagine Mary playing with Jesus just as she played with her own children. "She gave her life to God when she agreed to have Jesus. Do I totally let God have control over my life?" she wondered. She didn't feel sure. She prayed and let God take over her whole life. Then she read all about Mary. "God, I want to be like Mary. I want to fully trust in you and live a life for you and not for men," Carol prayed.

On Christmas Eve, the whole family was getting ready for their guests to arrive for dinner. "What are we going to do at the party?" Jessica asked. "Well, when everyone comes, we'll eat. Then we'll talk and play games. Later, we'll go to the twilight Christmas Eve service." Jessica nodded and the kids went upstairs to tidy up their rooms. Party time arrived and everyone started piling in to the house. All the children went up into the kid's rooms. Carol felt a little sick, but she welcomed the guests with a smile. All of Carol's friends were in the living room and they offered for her to lie down on the couch. They talked, but Carol wasn't really with them. She was looking at Jesus.

Baby Jesus looked like any other baby, but He was much more than that. Jesus was the most humble king anyone ever saw. He was in a manger instead of a cradle. "The first Christmas gift ever! The most wonderful one, too! Thank you, God for sending Him for me!" she thought to herself. Ralph called to her, "Come on, Carol! Everyone is in here. Do you want to say something?" Carol looked at her husband. "Yeah, one second." She scribbled down what she learned about the nativity set and what God had showed her through it.

"Hi everyone," Carol said with a smile. "Before we leave for the twilight service, I'd like to say something about this year's preparation for Christmas. It was stressing, exciting, and fun, but I realized that out of everything we did, most of it had nothing to do with what Christmas is all about. It's not bad or anything to decorate the tree and go shopping, but it is bad if we forget that Jesus is the reason for the season. I have a nativity set on the mantle and I looked at it whenever I got stressed or tired. I noticed different figures each time and I thought about them and then read about them in the Bible. I learned to be like Mary and learned to give my life to God. I'm sick, but God is still in control. Now let's go to the Christmas Eve service, and remember that Jesus is the reason for the season!" Everyone clapped and headed to their cars.

"This is a Christmas to remember!" Jessica cried as she ran through the snow. Carol smiled at that and she and her family hopped into the car and headed over to church. "You did great, Hon!" Ralph whispered in his wife's ear. "Thanks," Carol answered. In her heart she agreed with Jessica. It would be a Christmas to remember.

(This post has been submitted to Proverbs 31 Ministries for A Chance For You To Get Published)

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