I’ve always loved tradition. Even when I was little, Christmas wasn’t complete without going to Mass with my family, lighting the Advent wreath, and driving around to see beautiful luminary displays.
As I’ve grown older, the traditions of the Advent and Christmas seasons are still important to me, although they have now taken on a deeper meaning.
One tradition that my family and I have always shared centers on the Nativity scene. We place the baby Jesus in the manger on Christmas Day (along with an off-key rendition of Happy Birthday). The placement of Jesus in the manger signifies the completion of the Nativity scene that has been awaiting its missing piece. Just like the Nativity scene, I have been awaiting the birth of Our Lord throughout the Advent season. On Christmas Day, the waiting and preparation of Advent is over, and the Lord has come into my heart once more. Now the real celebrations can begin.
During the time in between Christmas and the Epiphany, the Church celebrates both the Feast of the Holy Family (Sunday, December 31st) and the Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God (Monday, January 1st). As I gaze upon the Nativity scene, I remember the Holy Family, Mary’s “yes” and Saint Joseph’s willing obedience.
On the Epiphany we add the wise men to the scene, the Magi who traveled from afar to gaze upon the face of the Messiah. Adding and praying about these different elements of the Nativity scene help me enter in to the season in a very real and tangible way.
It is hard not to get caught up in all that the secular world offers at Christmas time, but being Catholic, I know that our celebration is just beginning. We celebrate the birth of Christ into our world and into our hearts. Instead of taking down all the decorations the moment the last present is unwrapped… this year, I will linger over the humble manger a bit longer.
By: Libby Cylons