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This is the stable . . .

By Emily Milner

Tonight I watched my kids dressed up in our family’s annual Nativity. My daughter was an angel. I had warned her ahead of time that she might not be Mary. “I don’t want to be Mary!” she informed me. “You made me be Mary the last time. I want to be an angel.”

And angelic she was, a reverent expression on her face as she stood behind Mary and Joseph. My older son was a yellow-turbaned wise man, who presented his gifts with a flourish. I meant for my youngest son to be a shepherd, but he boycotted the Nativity, until the very end, when he fought with his second cousin over who got to tuck in the baby Jesus’ blanket.

It’s the same Nativity scene I have been in with my cousins on Christmas Eve since I was very small, since the year I was four and got to be Mary. There is an old slide of me, wearing a blue scarf, looking tenderly down at my doll baby Jesus.

On Christmas, we find ourselves in Joseph and Mary, in the angels, the shepherds, the wise men. I thought tonight about how I have been doing just that for years, imagining myself in Mary’s place. At four years old I swelled with the holiness of playing Mary; twenty years later, swollen with child myself, I marveled at Mary and her strength.

At our ward’s creche festival I saw the way people around the world find themselves in the Nativity: there was a scene set in Alaska, with the stable as an igloo, and Mary and Joseph bundled in furs. A clay Southwestern Nativity, the stable desert clay red. A carved wooden Polish Nativity. A child’s Nativity, cast in Fisher Price plastic. An embroidered Nativity, each piece stitched on its own pillow. There were dozens of them, and my kids ran from scene to scene, delighting each time in the fresh vision of what the Savior’s birth meant to that Nativity’s creator. I thought about how Christ belongs to every nation, every people, how that means the craftsmen in Ecuador who painted Mary’s features on, and how also, it means me. And my kids.

Maybe next year my youngest one will even put on his shepherd costume.

About Emily Milner

(Poetry Board) graduated from BYU in Comparative Literature, but it was long enough ago that most of what she learned has leaked out. She would like to mention other hobbies or interests, but to be honest she spends most of her free time reading (although she does enjoy attempting yoga). She used to blog at hearingvoices.wordpress.com. For now, though, Segullah is her only blogging home, and it's a good one.

1 thought on “This is the stable . . .”

  1. I like this, Emily . . . finding ourselves in Joseph and Mary, the angels, etc.

    I hadn't really thought about it like that until I really paid attention to The Forgotten Carols (not wanting to start a thread on how good or not good that music is). I mean, I'd wondered how Joseph or Mary must have felt, but never had generalized my thoughts into any kind of theme. It has been good for me to do that when I remember to do so.

    I love international creche festivals. On so many levels.

    Reply

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