All the Christmas decorations are up. The twinkling lights on the Christmas tree glow, creating shadows on the livingroom walls. The printer hums with recipes I've collected over the past few weeks, and the television plays endless, feel good stories of the holidays.
Since we have an "open door" policy at our house all through the year, we have visitors nearly every day, so the coffee pot stays full until we finally turn in for a few hours of peaceful sleep, just to start the magic all over again in the morning.
I was straightening the livingroom just before bedtime, expecting a friend in the morning. The nativity sat on the far end of the livingroom, figures askew, after Mere' had spent much time setting it up and enjoying the bible story of the first Christmas. I know how much she loves babies, and listening to her coo and speak imaginary lines to the players in her drama I was reminded how wonderful the story of the season is, especially through the eyes of a wondering child.
As I knelt down to place the nativity figures in their "proper" places, I picked up the lonely shepherd first. The set had 2 shepherds and 3 wisemen the year it came out of the box for the first time, but after all the curious little hands the last few years, some of the figures have found their way to the bottom of toy boxes, doubtlessly found anytime throughout this years celebrations.
So I knelt with the lonely shepherd, carefully placing him next to the manger, where he could give proper due to the Holy Child. It's probably a good thing that everyone else in the house was sound asleep in their beds, and had been for some time, because I could not stifle the belly laugh that exploded when I saw the "holy child" in our nativity scene was a tiny plastic dalmation dog.
I should have known, especially since Mere' had been the one who last played with the Christmas setting, that it would not necessarily have been a "real" baby that she was cooing too. She's like that. She can turn any toy in her fanciful world of imaginations into whatever she needs it to be. And she loves dogs.
So, with no disrespect to the Christ-child, our nativity still holds one sleeping dog in the manger, with shepherds and wisemen gathered 'round the throne of peace.
I am not sure exactly where the baby Jesus figure has landed in this house, but I do know, no matter where the original piece is found later this year, we will give our ultimate praise and thanksgiving to THE ONE who makes our holiday real, the reason for the season, the umph behind everything we are trying to teach our children about goodness, peace, love and sacrifice.
Especially this year, even if the figure is a dalmation dog in our plastic nativity set, we know the REAL Jesus who came to earth as a simple child so many years ago to give us the gift of eternal life so that we can live with HIM forever.
Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.