During the Christmas season we tend to forget the true meaning of Christmas, allowing the hustle and bustle of the season to replace what is really important - the birth of a beautiful baby born in a manger to a woodworker and his wife.
In the year 1223, St. Francis began noticing people were forgetting this blessed event while he was visiting Greccio, Italy, to celebrate Midnight Mass. Hoping to restore the importance of the Nativity, he found a niche in a rock, created an altar, and it was there St. Francis recreated the living Nativity using live animals and people. It was there the first Nativity was created.
Over the years many cultures have created their own version of the Nativity adding shepherds, wise men, animals and sometimes the entire town of Bethlehem. However, the basic Nativity consists of five main pieces. The stable, a manger placed in the center cradling the baby Jesus, and Mary kneeling to the right of Jesus, and Joseph standing to the left.
I have collected Nativities as far back as I can remember, and have everything from a rubber ducky nativity to the Peanuts nativity, all serving as a reminder to me the true meaning of Christmas. My parents and I have a tradition where we set up our Nativity on our fireplace, making it the center of our home and each time I pass it, I say a little prayer asking God to help me keep focused and remember, "Mary gave birth to her first born son and wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in an manger because there was no room for them in the inn" (Luke 2:7).
May the Lord bless you and your family this Christmas Season and may we open our hearts to make room for the child Jesus.
Molly Sheehan is a parishioner at Our Lady of Charity Church in Buffalo.