As I sit here typing on my laptop in our "music room" (also known as my school work room), I can look to my left and see an old manger scene sitting on top of the harpsichord in the corner.
I say "manger scene" and not the more common "nativity" because "manger scene" is what my mother called it, and this one was hers. When I was young, it used to sit under our Christmas tree. I've kept that tradition up by putting a nativity scene under our Christmas tree every year -- but not this one. Our tree nativity is a cheaper one that won't make me cry if the dog happens to get a hold of a shepherd and chew him up. This manger scene is sitting up high and out of danger.
It's an old set. The paint is chipping off of most of the pieces in spots and has been for a long time. My mother commented one year when I was home for the holidays that she was thinking about just spray-painting all the characters gold or something. I'm so glad I talked her out of that idea. I don't care that the paint is chipped. It needs to look like this.
Just outside the door to this room, I can lean out and see our huge metal clock on the wall which our eldest has decorated with little felt elves climbing all over it. My mom made those elves.
There's also a small tree halfway up the stairs that is decorated with eight or nine sets of different felt ornaments -- ornaments my mother made. A different set every year for most of my growing up years at home.
And on the window by the kitchen table, there are several crocheted snowflakes hanging. I'm pretty sure my mom made those, too.
I get a bit huffy about Christmas most years. At least once a season, I'm overwhelmed by the thing that our culture has turned Christmas into . . . which has NOTHING to do with Jesus coming to earth. I get annoyed that other people's expectations get in the way of my celebrating the Savior's birth in a way that's meaningful to me. (And yes, I know that's my problem and not theirs.)
My point is, I'm very aware of the fact that Christmas (contrary to popular belief) really is NOT about family and kids. We made it a holiday about family and kids . . . and there's nothing wrong with a holiday about family and kids . . . as long as family and kids don't start taking the place of the actual center of the holiday.
And for far too many of us -- even us churchy super-Christian folks who take offense at people saying "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas" and at people writing "Xmas" because "you're crossing out Christ!"-- far too many of us have done just that. We do self-righteous lip-service to Christ and put family in the throne of our hearts every December.
Nevertheless . . . I enjoy getting these Christmas decorations out every year and remembering my mother. And baking caramel corn and remembering my mother. I had a great mother. It's good to remember her. Because she remembered Christ.