The holidays are my favorite time of year. We go upstairs into the attic and start an assembly line of carrying all the boxes of holiday decorations downstairs. The one decoration that all the children get the most excited to see is the nativity scene. I can remember when I was a little girl how beautiful the nativity scene was and how much I enjoyed placing all the pieces around the stable.
My oldest girls will set it up perfectly, with all the people evenly spaced around the nativity and gently put pine straw around the animals. Then the little ones come and move everything around. The cow sits on the roof. The camel and donkey are best friends so they have to be next to each other and of course they don’t like boys so they have to sit next to Mary. And so it goes for the next four weeks, an endless cycle of rearranging the nativity according to how their eyes see the world. You can only imagine what the animals and people in my nativity scene look like after twelve years of being handled by tiny hands. The shepherds have no heads and the wise men have lost their arms. The donkey has no tail and the roof to the stable fell off.
So each holiday season we take time to glue on everyone’s head, arm, tails, and whatever other parts may have come off. You put a little glue and attach the broken piece and then you just sit there and hold it for a little while until it sets.
I am quickly learning that little girls can be so mean at a very young age. It is a guarantee that one of my daughters will come home from school each day and say that one of their friends announced to them that they are not their friend anymore (of course I know that by tomorrow they will be best friends again). I wrap my arms around them and remind them of how special they are in so many ways. In a way, I glue them back together and hold them tight while the glue sets. What better time to learn a life lesson than when you are gluing on a shepherd’s head.
I am always telling my children that words can be so hurtful. We all start out like these little glass people. Beautiful, smooth, without any cracks. We have an argument with a friend or family member and those words that are spoken can put little cracks in our hearts. Even though we go back and say we are sorry and try and fix it, the crack is always right there. I hope my children will remember that when they get upset with people the words they use can last with us forever. And when people use words to hurt them, I hope they will be there for each other to place a little glue over the crack and hold each other for a moment while it dries.