With the kids gone back to school this week, I’ve finally had time to start getting a little bit organized. Because, really, what’s the point when everyone is home hanging around on Christmas break. So most of the inside Christmas decorations have been packed away, which was no small feat, since we have had the basement framed since I put those decorations up. The basement may be bare, but the storage areas are packed! It took quite a bit of maneuvering to get everything back in there. Maybe I’ll post some pictures later.
It is still winter, after all. Isn’t it? It certainly doesn’t feel like any winter I remember. I think it’s 52 degrees out there, and sunny and beautiful. It feels like April to me. But, in the spirit of “winter” and since we really do need some more snow, I left my snowmen up.
As I was putting away the decorations, I took a picture of this nativity set.
It’s not all up on the shelf like it was, it’s just on the coffee table waiting for me to put it away.
I love this nativity set. My Grandma Coleman made this set when she worked at the State Hospital. I guess they taught ceramic classes for the patients there, and she made these pieces as well. When I was a student at BYU, I would often visit my Grandma in Springville. Sometimes I even took my roommates with me and we would rake leaves or help out a bit. But I would always come at Christmas and set up her tree and decorations. She had more decorations then she had space to display them (now I’m in the same boat) so I would have to be selective about the decorations I would haul upstairs from the scary basement storage room. But I always set up her ceramic nativity sets. She had this white one and one that was painted. The white one would go in the front window. The windowsill was deep enough to set the whole scene in the front window. You couldn’t see it from the room, but you could see it from outside. As she got older, I would still come every year and decorate. When I had kids I would bring the kids with me. They would laugh at the “old fashioned” ornaments and help me put as many as we could fit on the tree. For some reason, Grandma never had enough ornament hangers, so many of the ornaments were hung on her tree with paper clips. One year I came prepared with a box of ornament hangers so we could use them all on the tree.
Later she got so she couldn’t remember much of anything, and the family made plans to move her out of her house so she could live with her youngest daughter and her family. As I set out her Christmas things, I asked, “Grandma, when you are gone, would you mind if I took this nativity set? I really love it.”
“Of course, dear,” she said, “put your name on it so we’ll know to give it to you.”
I did write my name on the inside of the pieces lightly with pencil. I knew that was her last Christmas in that house,so after Christmas I packed up that nativity set and brought it home to my house. I told the family that I was taking that nativity set, just in case someone wondered where it was.
My Grandma has passed away, now, but every year as I set up my Christmas decorations, I am reminded of her as I put up this Nativity Set. I love how it’s not perfect. The glaze on some of the pieces is not exactly even. It doesn’t matter. It’s perfect to me. It’s a piece of my Grandma that I can keep and enjoy and remember her love for me. I think that’s one reason we love Christmastime so much. Each tradition, each decoration that’s been around forever is a reminder not only of the Savior’s Birth, but of family memories. As we decorate or attend family parties or retell the stories of Jesus, we share a piece of our past. We pass those traditions and memories on to our children; we also make new traditions and memories.
I hate to take it all down and put it away. But I know it will be there for me next year, and the year after that. And every year as long as I take care of it and keep it safe. Just like my family and our memories.