Silent night, holy night,
All is calm, all is bright,
Round yon virgin mother and child,
Holy infant so tender and mild;
Sleep in heavenly peace,
Sleep in heavenly peace.
What, you ask, is the significance of my italicized version of "Silent Night"? I'll let you be the judge...but first a little background.
Josh's dear grandparents gave us a Willow Tree nativity set with the specific instructions that they would like the children to be able to enjoy it and play with it. Now if you're at all famliar with Willow Tree, you know that their figurines are: 1) fragile and 2) expensive. In our home, that combination typically equates with "put-it-away-in-the-attic-until-the-kids-are-married". But we honored their wishes and put the nativity set out not only in a place that the kids can reach it, but we went the extra step to put it on the table in the kitchen where they spend a good bit of their time everyday eating, doing arts and crafts, and playing puzzles.
They've loved it!
Now back to the song. We love for our children to enjoy the secular aspects of Christmas (decorating the tree, driving around looking at Christmas lights, and wrapping gifts with me), but our goal is first and foremost for them to know that Christmas is Jesus' birthday and that God gave us the best gift imaginable when he sent His Son to us. So we've used the nativity set as a tool to help teach the story of Jesus' birth. And as much as they've learned from it, it's painfully obvious that the nativity has been in the "care" of young children and their far-from-perfect mom. Take a look:
Everything looks great, huh? I can totally get "silent," "holy," and "calm" from that. But wait, there's more to the story. Take Joseph, for example. This morning we had just finished up breakfast, and I walked into the living room to put Isabel down, and I hear Abby in the kitchen saying "Oh no...Joseph is sitting in the juice!" What?Jack had had fruit on his plate, and although he inhaled the fruit, he left all the fruit juice behind. And as only a two-year-old little boy could know, Joseph really wanted to go for a splash.
Now for Joseph example #2. No, Joseph didn't cut his arm on his staff (and I know that because I accidentally sucked the staff up into the vacuum last night). Rather, he was a victim of the aforementioned arts-and-crafts time.
Lambs. They're the epitome of "tender" and "mild", right? Looks like this one hit a little rough patch and lost his ear.
And now for my favorite. Abby was in the pantry one day looking for a snack, and I hear "MOMMY! THERE'S A SHEPHERD IN THE TRASH CAN!" (Did I expect that sentence? Not really. Was I surprised when I heard it? Not in the least! "Mr. Garbage Shepherd" has Jack written all over it!)
With each passing year and growing little one, I become more and more appreciative of the imperfection of my life. And as beautiful as the Willow Tree nativity set was the moment it came out of the box, I think it's far more precious now. That's probably a lesson that Grandma and Grandpa had already learned, and they taught it to me in such a meaningful way. As Christmas rapidly approaches, I pray that you and your family will remember what really happened that Silent, Holy, Calm, Tender, Mild, and Peaceful Night (even if your home is far from any of that!)Merry Christmas!Love,