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Monday, December 19, 2011

Keeping the Holidays Simple

I had originally intended to write this post just to brag about my serendipitous find of the perfect hallway table just when I needed a place to display my nativity collection.  I try to keep my decor minimal- no end tables and such, and our bookcases are too crammed full of books to use as knickknack display, so I was stumped about where to set out my nativities.  Then last Saturday my neighbors set exactly what I needed out on their curb!  It fit perfectly on a previously empty wall, didn't interrupt the flow of the room, and even fit in with the modern decor I'm going for.  It makes me warm and fuzzy all over again just thinking about it.  And it makes me smile to think about my daughters and I, still in our fancy dresses after attending the Nutcracker at possible the most hoity-toity opera house in the country, dragging in "trash" from the curb.

But, as I took pictures for the post, those nasty little inner voices started nagging at me.  The items on the table weren't "styled", some spots looked cluttered, some bare, there was no extra greenery or bows, or anything to dress it up, the wall behind it is just a blank wall, no beautiful pictures or clever vinyl words.  How could I take pictures of this and put it on the internet, who would want to look at it?  My exciting find seemed suddenly less exciting.  But then I realized the my table with its little collection, unstyled as it is, has a purpose, and a lesson to teach.

Why is it unstyled?  Because my children endlessly pick up and play with and re-arrange these figures, and extra greenery and such would just get in their way.  I've carefully selected these nativities over the years to be child-friendly, from the plastic Fisher Price set my mother-in-law bought to the olivewood set from Jerusalem, none of them are breakable.  These sets, and the books I've collected telling the nativity story in various ways, form the backbone of my (never completely successful) strategy of keep-it-simple, keep-it-Christ-centered.  I remember my girls at 3 and 5 years old playing endlessly the whole month of December with the various nativity figures, acting out the Nativity story over and over.  Now they're 11 and almost-13, and they're working on memorizing the whole story directly from Luke, but they still have their favorite nativity pictures books, and they still find their way over to the table, joined by their younger brother, to act out the story with the little figures.  The eleven year old even put together the Lego nativity scene in the picture below out of minifigures we already had on hand.  I love seeing their creativity blossom as they get older.  Of course I've fantasized about handcrafting my own nativity for years, I even got as far as Mary and Joseph felt finger puppets one year, and every year I feel terrible that I haven't done it, but looking at our collection, and thinking about what it's taught my children, my heart eases a little bit.  What I've given them may not be perfect, but it's enough.