Each New Years Day afternoon, it is our tradition to take down the Christmas decorations. And so it was again this year. As I glanced at the Nativity set one final time, I wondered if we could just leave it up this year. What prompted the thought was the joy I have found over the years through periodic visits to the family room where a small creche is displayed each Christmas. (We don’t have many heirlooms in our family. This handmade stable replica built by my grandpa is the only physical remembrance of him that we have.) During these visits each year, I gaze at the characters of the Nativity as I travel to Bethlehem in my mind and it changes me.

I think about the love of our God and his willingness to step down from his mysterious magnificence to allow himself to be known in a form that I can relate to. I am at once humbled and moved by his gracious act of kindness to lower himself to connect to the human race. I marvel that he died the death I should have died then three days later, overcame death for all time to allow those who believe to live with him forever. Surely the God that is, is a God of love.

These visits leave me feeling loved, even cleansed. On the coldest of winters, I actually feel warmer as a result of my “touch from heaven.” I feel more alive each trip I take. Maybe I am.

Though the creche and it’s characters found their way into their box to be stored for another 11 months, I am wondering if it’s possible to keep the Nativity clearly etched in my memory even when it’s not the holiday season. I’ve noticed that when I meditate on the meaning of Christmas, that I’m a kinder, gentler and a better person. I need the transforming power of Emmanuel year ’round not just when baby Jesus is smiling up at me from his crib of straw.

May we endeavor to keep the Nativity set displayed twelve months a year in our minds. And may the miracle of His coming change us to be more like him.

Something to think about.

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