Early this December Haruka and I braved IKEA once again to buy real bonafide Christmas trees. Growing up in Anchorage, I was used to home and garden stores stocking trees, and roadside stands popping up to sell Minnesota's finest (or so they told us). Here in Tokyo, your best bet for a real tree is the one weekend a year when IKEA sells a somewhat smaller version of evergreen trees.
I LOVE the smell of evergreen trees. And I love the fact that I don't have to store a fake Christmas tree all year in our tiny apartment. So we went and joined the seemingly thousands of others lined up to get a tree. We got our tree home and set it up, on top of a table, of course, because we have a curious little one-year-old toddling about the place now. Then nestled up under the tree among some green garland, I placed our nativity scene.
I like our little nativity; it is a small, simple white ceramic set that was given to me years ago by my then future mother-in-law to put up in my college dorm to decorate for Christmas, and have used every year since then. After I had all the figures in place, I stepped back and was struck by the contrast: our glittering sparkling tree verses the simple white nativity scene.
At first I felt a little guilty that the tree was so much more prominent on the table verses the little nativity figures. I'm supposed to be a missionary, right? Shouldn't the nativity be the most important Christmas decoration? But then I thought how maybe our modest little figurines can hearken back to the original place of Jesus' nativity. Jesus' nativity is the picture of humility: God born as fragile human out in a barn alongside of livestock.
While our figures are probably quite a bit cleaner than the original scene, it was a good reminder to me of what Jesus did, and the humble example He set in His life from the time of His birth. I thank God for the Christmas season: for the practice of giving to one another, for the fancy decorations that make Christmas the most special season to me, and mostly for the time to celebrate Jesus' birth. This year our gift to Naomi was her very own plush nativity set. I look forward to getting out her special set every year so she can grow up knowing that Jesus' birth is the special event we celebrate.
I pray that you all had a blessed Christmas season, and had a chance to slow down and reflect on the miracle of the very first nativity.
Wishing you all a belated Merry Christmas and Happy New Year,