We wore bathrobes stitched by my mother’s own hand, terry cloth rough against our skin in navy blue and dark green. A white belt around the middle. We put towels on our heads, makeshift coverings with frayed edges. Then my brother and I marched both solemn and delighted into the living room. He Joseph and I Mary.
We’d take our places in front of a manger, usually a toy crib where one of my baby dolls played the starring role. No matter that this doll was a girl with long eyelashes and a bald plastic head. She would do. Our dog, an old but enthusiastic dachshund who looked a bit like a happy sausage, would play the role of livestock.
My Dad would clear his throat and begin to read from Luke.
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them . . . (Luke 2:8-9)
Every Christmas Eve we did this by candlelight . . . until the teenage years came and we rolled our eyes and wanted only to eat seconds of dessert. In my grown-up years I have never done anything like it either.
But I think now, in the middle of the hustle and the busyness, the to-do lists and the calendar with its full boxes, that we got it right back then. That we knew so much more than I do now. Because what I remember from those times, more than anything else, is the feeling of being loved. The wonder of realizing Jesus came for me.
For me in the tattered robe with the towel slipping off her head. For me who sometimes threw things at her brother and pulled the poor dog’s ears and ate up the last piece of chocolate fudge.
Jesus came for me anyway. And all He wanted in return was for me to love Him back.
I’ve complicated things somehow. I’ve made the story of Christmas about what I do: about how well I can tie bows, and choose party outfits, and make small talk. About how the table is set and the ham is cooked. About how I sing in the service and take notes from the sermon with my neat purple pen.
But the angels didn’t say, “Good news! You get to try hard. You get to wear yourself out. You get to make sure you have it all together.” Instead they declared:
I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you. (Luke 2:10-11)
A Savior! For us!
This reminds me the heart of Christmas has always been about two things: A child in a manger and childlike faith.
Childlike faith is not about hustle; it’s about humility.
It’s not about perfection; it’s about grace.
It’s not about effort; it’s about extravagant love.
Maybe we could all pull out a robe this year. Maybe we could sit in our living rooms on a silent night. Maybe we could read the story again and remember the version of it we understood long ago, the one that’s still true too . . .
Jesus came. We are loved. That is all.Leave a Comment
Bev @ Walking Well With God says
I can just picture your re-enactment of the Christmas story complete with dachshund/sheep 🙂 But, when you really think about it – that is a more apt celebration of what happened than perfectly wrapped presents and Martha Stewart trees. We NEEDED a Savior because we needed saving. We can, as you said, try to earn, strive, perfect our way into God’s good graces. There is only ONE way and that is through Jesus. Christmas is about a choice…are we going to choose Christ and grace or are we going to continually try to do it ourselves? Praying hearts would be softened to choose the babe lying in the manger.
Amen Bev, and thank God he sent Jesus. What a wonderful gift. Holly, I can so see your mom and dad doing this. I love them both dearly. Merry Christmas! Bring out the milk and cookies!
Julie Roddy says
Thanks Holley, I love the image of you and your brother and your dog! So perfect in innocence.
A child in a manger and a childlike faith.
And Bev, well said. We can choose Christ and grace or we can drive ourselves crazy trying to outdo ourselves and others.
Have a peaceful and Christ filled Christmas everyone.
I so needed to be reminded of what you shared! How simple, true and precious…
Thank you for sharing your heart, how I love Jesus, His love and Grace He has for us… the perfect gift!!
Merry Christmas and warm blessings! 🙂 ❤❤
What a great reminder! “Jesus came for me anyway. And all He wanted in return was for me to love Him back.” I LOVE this. Really that is all it’s about, yet we make is so complicated ,don’t we?
Keri McCue says
I love this simple reminder. It is so needed as this season is SO busy for my family and I!
Melissa Henderson says
I love Christmas memories. Thank you for this wonderful reminder that “Jesus came. We are loved. That is all.” Amen. 🙂
Your message was a true blessing to me, and Bev so were your words.
I thought I’d share this with you all.
Two days ago, almost a month before his first BD, the youngest of our family was flown to a Children’s Hospital. His dad (my son) wasn’t able to fly with him, “No room,” he was told. An angel happened to pull through, and got him flown there anyway. Following that it was though time stood still: a gift was delivered at our door with the glass shattered, it didn’t matter, a phone solicitor guilted me for money, it didn’t matter, presents not wrapped, shopping not finished, and so on.
My husband, and I prayed for this baby boy. and his parent’s. I am so grateful to Him that yesterday that sweet little boy got sent home. (As I write this there just so happens to be a blizzard.)
I wish you all a blessed Christmas,
Beth Williams says
So glad your grandson got sent home before Christmas. In tough situations we realize stuff doesn’t matter. Life is more precious than things and money. Praying you have a wonderful, healthy Christmas with family and friends!
Thank-you for your lovely reply. You are so right, and I pray that all will be well for you this Christmas. Hope you can enjoy some time with your dad.
Have a blessed day.
Beth Williams says
We will be celebrating Christmas at the assisted living on 12/22 at 2 pm. I guess Santa will show up and hand out gifts to all the residents. I will be there. Thanks.
Have a blessed Christmas!
I love this! Thank you for the reminder!
To me, Christmas in the past few years has seemed like such a daunting Event, watching everyone reunite with their families while I remain a “Christmas orphan”, relying on long-distance phone calls and snail mail. Although I don’t have the same kind of business, I’ve found myself searching in vain for something more complex, more to-do lists, more business to keep myself occupied. Once again, I am reminded of the stillness and the love that came down for us <3
Susan Roach says
Thank you Addison for your reply. That’s where I found myself when I was first walking with the Lord. I had very few people I felt I could connect with and my family was spread out all over and I was not able to see them. I started to get discouraged and feelings of despair came upon me (the enemies biggest tools right and sometimes my default system). What the Lord showed me during these times was it was about Him! It’s always about Him. In every situation it’s always the same answer, “Loom at Me”. Now 6 years later I have my great husband (the Lord gave me) my parents (at which my (step)dad was raised an Orthodox Jew and my mom who has a guru) one of our children (who believes in buddha) and a sister in law (used to be a nun). We have prayed for salvation for our family and the Lord has brought us all together this Christmas after much prayers and claiming He is who He is and He does what He says He going to do.
Thank you for your comment it inspired me today 🙂
Susan Roach says
*look at me … theses phones correct what they want lol lol
Julie Moussot says
Thank you, Holley. I needed this message today.
This is so beautiful!!!! I got my only son a Fisher Price Nativity and the angel on the stable top could be pushed and the melody to Silent Night would play. We’d push the angel and sing it every night leading up to Christmas. Now, it’s not as fun as he is all grown up. . .but we can all marvel at the true gifts of grace and love.
Thank you for the reminder to be still and enjoy the wonderful season, to be grateful for the Reason: a baby named Jesus, who came…to give us Easter!
Rebecca Jones says
The memory of your childhood tradition is a gift to us. I was the chubby girl who couldn’t quite match her outfit to the others, but I loved doing sign language to O Holy Night.
Kathy Cheek says
That God would come down to this messed up earth, meaning us!, that had to be His love for us, that humbles me at Christmas and throughout the year!
I love your remembering of Christmas past and your very own Christmas pageant with your family. I am sure those memories grow sweeter by the year!
Beth Williams says
Loved the reenactment story your family did. Wish more families did that kind of stuff to keep the story alive. I’m so very tired of the commercialism of Christmas. It seems the real meaning behind Christmas is lost in black Friday and Cyber Monday. This country needs to get back to its roots and realize what Christmas is al about–a child in a manger and child like faith in a loving, merciful God!
I love watching Charlie Brown Christmas. Love it when Linus reads the Christmas story. The very end when they decorate Charlie Brown’s little tree and sing Hark the Herald Angels Sing. I have a little Charlie Brown tree with some lights and a few decorations. Don’t need a big fancy tree for just the two of us. I’m into simplification.
Merry Christmas everyone 🙂
God bless you Holley! Such a beautiful reminder. Jesus is coming, we are loved ❤️
Thank you, Holley. I needed to stop and reflect on this–the Child and childlike faith. I pray that we all are able to slow down, pause and continue to reflect on Him.
Doris Haugen says
Such a great reminder for me. Thank you,
Christmas is a great time .May all experience the joy and peace of Christ this Christmas!Merry Christmas to you!
Nancy Ruegg says
Humility, grace, and extravagant love. Jesus demonstrated all three, and now (with his help) we get to demonstrate them, too: humbly let others’ decorations or dinners, shine, graciously spread joy wherever we go, and express extravagant love in ways other than extravagant gifts. Thank you for pointing us in the right direction, Holley.
Donna Upshaw says
Today I was rushing again for somewhere I needed to be, or thot I did. I don’t like hustle,bustle and hurry. I am physically tired and missing my quiet time too often.
The thot crossed my mind that whenever a baby comes in the scene it changes things. Just let a baby enter room, a store or anywhere and people stop and coo, laugh, try to get the baby to laugh and exhibit all sorts of fun and funny behavior. They will spend time they swore they didn’t have.
But THE BABY IN THE MANGER is overlooked. We rush on. The “tyrany of the urgent” reigns. THR BABY has no press, few honest fans, no one screaming he has been abandament or no CPS representation. No, the world rushes on.
I am tired alright of being overly consumed with trite stuff that bears no resemblance to HIM.
When all else passes away, and it will, HE won’t !
So join my rebellion and steadfastly seek THE CHILD again. BE STILL AND KNOW
U ARE LOVED