When my parents first got married, Mom worked at a Hallmark store. While she worked there, she bought a small nativity set, which she used every Christmas while we were growing up. When my sister and I were little, we had a grandiose Barbie Dream house, but Barbie found her home empty at Christmas. At the time Mattel did not manufacture families for Barbie. I think it was just Barbie, Ken, and Skipper. At Christmastime we would take Baby Jesus from the nativity and he would serve as Barbie’s baby. I guess he was sort of a foster child staying with Barbie and Ken for the month of December. He did a beautiful job as Barbie’s baby and we generally got him back into his manger before Christmas. However, at some point with all of our shenanigans, he went missing. Of course, you can’t have a nativity without Baby Jesus so my mom removed the wings from the little cherub who resembled Baby Jesus and put him in the manger instead. The cherub sort of looked like Baby Jesus, but he didn’t fit quite right in the manger and looked awkward. Mom used the nativity with the cherub sitting in for Baby Jesus for years; I think always complaining about how we lost Baby Jesus.
One year Mom found a gorgeous jewel-toned nativity set at Bombay and Company and decided she didn’t need her incomplete nativity anymore. By then I was in college and had my first apartment. Mom gave me her old nativity since I didn’t have one, and I happily accepted it. I soon discovered that Mom’s vintage nativity was actually a Fontanini set from Italy and they continued to make pieces for it. I found a replacement Baby Jesus in a department store and added him to the nativity. This new figurine was a Baby Jesus, but with his newness he didn’t fit in with the old nativity set quite right either.
When Dad was putting the Christmas decorations back into the attic that year, he saw something tiny glimmering between two rafters. He shined a flashlight on the tiny object and discovered it was the original Baby Jesus. As it turned out, we had not lost Baby Jesus after all. He was in our house all along and right over head for all those years. I like to tell this story at this time of year because it is a reminder that He never leaves us alone even when we feel forgotten or forsaken. It is also a message that I kept close to my heart during our struggles with infertility, and still do as we take on the everyday challenges of raising quadruplets.
This December has been joy filled with the quads learning about Christmas traditions and celebrating the season. They’ve learned Christmas carols, watched holiday movies, and visited Santa. We’ve crafted all sorts of festive decorations from gingerbread men to reindeer. If you’ve been following us on Facebook or Twitter, you may have seen Bop’s (our scout elf) various locations in our house.
All of those secular traditions are fun, but we haven’t let them overshadow the true reason for the season. This year, we spent time reading toddler books about the first Christmas and showed the quads our Fontanini nativity set. They’ve rearranged the nativity a few times, but have been good about leaving it on the burlap, which helps me keep tabs on Baby Jesus.
It was Harper’s idea to move the kitchen footstool to the den so he could get a better view of the nativity. I thought it was clever, and I’ve been proud of his self-restraint in looking at the nativity. Sometimes two of the quads will share the stool and look at the nativity together.
Since I’m not exactly encouraging the quads to play with our family nativity, I was happy when I found a Melissa & Doug toddler’s nativity set. This one is wooden and durable so they can manipulate and arrange as they like.
Despite making several Christmas crafts, I kept coming up short when it came to an age-appropriate nativity craft until my friend, Amber shared hers last week. (Don’t forget to stop by her blog, Texas Tales for a more detailed description of the craft and other toddler nativity books). It’s very simple and ideal for toddlers. I printed Baby Jesus coloring pages and let the quads color them. Then, I dotted glue onto the manger and asked the quads to place snips of rafia over the dots. For a special touch, we also glued a star on the top of the page.
May you find love, peace, and hope this year. Merry Christmas!