Let’s keep Christmas in our hearts and homes all year

Published 7:30 am Sunday, December 31, 2023

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The miniature stable comes out of the storage room every Christmas. Inside the box, wise men and their camels, shepherds and their sheep, along with angels come out of the darkness for their annual display during the holidays.

All these figurines take their places surrounding Mary and Joseph, who are looking at Baby Jesus lying in the manger. After we celebrate His birthday, they disappear into their box until it’s time to reappear next year.

Our manger scene brings back many memories, like the Christmas when the miniature wise men traveled from our daughter’s bedroom, down the hallway and into the den. The five-inch-tall wise men made their way little by little, day by day, on their trek to the manger scene on the shelf by the kitchen table. True to the Biblical account, they arrived after Christmas Day.

The first year we displayed the manger scene, each figurine came wrapped in its own box. We celebrated the Advent of Jesus’ birth by opening a box every other day, and each time our young daughter hoped it would be baby Jesus. She was overjoyed when we opened the last box on Christmas Day.

Once, when it came time for the stable, people, animals and angels to go back into their box for another year, we decided to keep them right where they were so we’d see them every day until the next Christmas. During a daylong drive to my parents’ house that holiday season, I read aloud a story to my husband and daughter about what happened to a family when they were packing up their manger scene.

Their preschooler, just old enough to grasp the meaning of Christmas, was startled to see his mother packing up the figurines. He demanded to know why she was putting Jesus in a box. The little boy thought his family was going to put Jesus out of sight and out of mind until next Christmas.

His innocent question caused his family to keep Christmas all year. Their manger scene remained in its place throughout the following year. After reading their story, we followed this family’s example.

I wonder what would happen if everyone decided to keep Christmas all year – not so much a manger scene on a shelf, but ask each day for the Lord Jesus to be near us – within our hearts. What if every day we kept the spirit of loving and giving that comes with Christmas?

What if each day we could keep the joy and excitement of Christmas?  Wouldn’t it change our lives if we looked at each new day with a “Merry Christmas” attitude, instead of bah – humbug?

The angel of the Lord said Mary’s Son would be called “Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us” (Matthew 1:23). It’s been said that Christmas began in the heart of God and it’s only complete when it reaches the heart of man.

Let’s not put Jesus in a box and only bring Him out when we need Him. Let’s keep Him in our homes and hearts. “Let every heart prepare Him room,” not just at Christmas, but throughout the year.

— Jan White has compiled a collection of her columns in her book, “Everyday Faith for Daily Life.”