Christmas Make-Believe

I remember when the manger scene
Was real as it could be.
I’d gaze at it for hours
Beneath our Christmas tree.

I would babysit for Mary
So that she could get some rest,
And place the wise men and the shepherds
Where they could see the best.

I fed all of the animals,
The donkeys, cows and sheep,
And shushed the grownups in the room
While Baby Jesus was asleep.

I miss those games of make-believe
I played so long ago
There beneath our Christmas tree
Among the hills of cotton snow.

And then I heard them giggle,
They were gathered at the door.
“Mother! Why on God’s green Earth
Are you lying on the floor?”

My wife, Ruth, has a friend, Grace, whose family has a unique tradition involving the manger scene. Twelve days before Christmas, Mary and Joseph are placed in a room far from the Christmas tree and every day someone gets to move them a little closer to the tree. On Christmas morning they arrive at the tree and baby Jesus is placed in the manger. You have to watch your step at their house during the holidays! My daughter in law, Erin, leaves the crib empty in her manger scene until Christmas morning.

Their traditions gave me the idea for Christmas Make-Believe. The mother in the poem had fond memories of being allowed to play with her family’s manger scene at Christmas time. She was embarrassed to be caught by her kids, while reminiscing.

If you have such a valuable manger scene under your tree that it requires a no-touch-policy, maybe you should get one of less value that the kids can handle. My sister, Jo Anne, still has the old worn Santa doll under her tree each Christmas, that she and I loved until it was ragged.


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