Years ago, long before a grandchild was even a gleam in our eyes, I bought a little Precious Moments nativity set from Avon. Now, I had several other very nice nativity sets but this particular one I planned on using with my "someday" grandkids. They could play with it all they wanted. I started using this set over 15 years ago. That year, our new little Siamese kitten "loved" one of the sheep and walked around with it in her mouth for hours on end. No matter how many times I took it away, she would always come back for that sheep!
Finally, over 13 years ago, we had grandkids. I've been setting out this nativity, at their eye level, ever since then. It's one of my favorite things to display and one of the last things I set out each year. I love handling the mauled sheep. I love setting each character into place. My husband even gets a kick out of watching me do this. One year when our triplet grandkids were almost three, our littlest granddaughter was fascinated with Baby Jesus. On each visit here, she would destroy the nativity set. On their first visit, in early December, we lost the shepherd's hook/staff. Her mother, our daughter, was mortified, trying to help find each piece but I told her, "Truly, I bought this nativity set for the grandkids. I WANT them to play with it." We looked for that staff for the entire month. We easily found Baby Jesus and everybody else. As the month wore on and after our family's massive Christmas celebration, my husband and I turned the house upside down looking for a now lost hay bale and the aforementioned shepherd's hook.
I was sad to now be missing two pieces of this set but I was thinking about the blessing that this little girl loves Baby Jesus so much and that I have had six grandchildren now play with this set. I couldn't stay sad about that missing hay bale and shepherd's staff for long! I was truly just filled with thanksgiving for our blessings as a family. The grandkids' nativity would be just fine missing a couple of pieces. Frankly, we are lucky to still have all the primary characters after all those kids and especially with three sets of little tiny hands on them at one time.
As we were putting up Christmas that year, I reached down into one of the boxes, and there, sealed in the plastic bag I stored the nativity set in, was THE shepherd's hook! Now, you could say I never took it out but let me be clear here. Even my husband remarked how he had noticed when I placed the shepherd's hook in his hand the day I put the set on display. I remembered having done it! We had moved couch cushions. We had moved the furniture. We had been through all the kids' toybox in their toy closet. Yet, here it was, in its original bag, waiting to join the set again!
We have lost the bale of hay but we found a lot more than a shepherd's hook that day. I will be forever reminded of a babe's fascination with the miracle of Christmas, with a now 17-year-old cat's fascination at the animal witnesses to the miracle, and that things are just things. It's the memories associated with them that make them special. This Gram is thankful for Spirit reminding her that they are ever-present. I will never forget that shepherd's hook in that bag. There is no way on earth it could have been there. I placed it in the shepherd's hand when I put it on display. Isn't God amazing?
Until next time, may you continue to feel Spirit's unending love in your heart as they make sure we are taken care of on a daily basis. May you continue to notice the little things for that is where the wonder lives!