by Judy Miller (visit Judy's site by clicking here.)
My Mother loved Christmas above all other holidays. Living on a farm during World War II meant little money for non-essentials. One pre-Christmas evening, when I was only four years old, I remember the following incident.
Momma and Daddy were sitting in the living room listening to Christmas Carols on the radio.
The Christmas tree we had cut from our woods was standing in the corner, brightly lit. There were only five days left until Christmas.
I was lying on the rug; coloring a picture of Santa in my Christmas coloring book that Grandma had given me.
I heard Momma say to Daddy, "You know what? We need a Nativity scene for under the tree."
"Well, it's been a hard year. We just don't have the money to buy one," Daddy replied.
"I know," said Momma quietly.
Then she clapped her hands and jumped up from her chair.
"I can make one!" she exclaimed.
Momma ran out to the kitchen and I followed closely behind, caught up in her excitement.
Momma spread newspapers out on the kitchen table.
She got her paint set out of the buffet drawer and dug around in the wastebasket, pulling out an empty cereal box.
Then Momma went into her bedroom closet and got down a bag of material scraps and some pipe stem cleaners.
Momma laid everything out on the kitchen table and thought for a moment.
She cut up the cereal box and painted it to look like wooden shingles.
She took pipe stem cleaners and bent them into shapes like people.
Then she took scraps of material from the bag and made robes to put on the pipe stem cleaners. They looked just like shepherds!
She took some beautiful blue silky material and turned one of the pipe stem cleaner people into Jesus' mother Mary.
She put golden cloth on three pipe stem cleaner people and they looked just like the Wise Men.
Momma turned to me and said, "Honey, run to your bedroom and get that little plastic baby doll from your dollhouse."
Momma took the doll and wrapped it in a piece of Kleenex and put it into a cradle she had made from match sticks, with a little bit of straw in it.
Then Momma opened up the buffet drawer and found some gold foil she had saved off a candy bar. She cut out a star-shape from the top of the empty cereal box and glued the gold foil on it.
The empty cereal box now looked just like a little barn with the front open.
Momma placed it under the Christmas tree and put all the pipe stem cleaner people in their correct places. Then she hung the gold star on a branch right over the barn. She pulled a white Christmas tree light down behind the star.
It looked like the star was shining!
Daddy got up from his chair and hugged Momma.
"That is the most beautiful Nativity I've ever seen," he said, as he kissed Momma on the cheek.
I got down on the floor and lay on my tummy so I could see everything close up.
It was the most beautiful Nativity I've ever seen.
A Nativity made from love and a desire to praise God's gift to all of us.
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