After the last ornaments were packed up mostly with care for another eleven months in the attic, after the snowflake plates were packaged and foisted up the ladder, only one thing remained to call Christmas cleanup “done.” The porcelain nativity, one of my most precious Christmas possessions, would be placed in Styrofoam molds and cardboard and paper for one more year.
As I carefully wrapped and placed each piece, I fingered each repair, remembering the moments they represented:
- The shepherd’s staff, broken by overeager young fingers, which took four different tries of glue before one held it together.
- The wise man that teetered off the ledge and smashed into so many pieces that my preteen heart knew it could never be put back together. And yet here it is, a testament to my dad’s thoughtful care, prowess with superglue, and what I’m sure was hours of love as he painstakingly put it back together.
- The little bird designed to idyllically perch on the angel’s trumpet, which broke off sometime between when it was packed up and when it was unwrapped again.
You can trace more superglued memories over the faces and shapes of several other nativity pieces. They’re not in pristine condition; time and use have left their marks. And yet even those breaks and repairs have become a part of the treasure of heritage and memory they represent.
You’ve probably already packed up your Christmas decorations, turning the calendar to January and the fresh promise of a new year. But as you pack up your memories from this wild and glorious holiday season, remember that Jesus was with you in every moment of elation and every disappointing experience you encountered.
The holidays are always a mixed bag of happy and sad, of bittersweet memories of those who are not with us and an overflowing gratitude for the good gifts of the present. God redeems even the most difficult times. For even this, we can give thanks.
“The works of his hands are faithful and just; all his precepts are trustworthy; they are established forever and ever, to be performed with faithfulness and uprightness. He sent redemption to his people; he has commanded his covenant forever. Holy and awesome is his name!” —Psalm 111:7–9