On Nativities, Chocolate, and Thing

Advent is upon us again, and this year, my second time celebrating the season of anticipation and penance, is extra special for me. This year I’ve added an Advent calender and a Nativity.

You should have an Advent calender if for no other reason than to eat more chocolate. Seriously. You wake up every morning, read the newspaper, drink some coffee, open a door in the Advent calender and there waiting for you is a piece of chocolaty goodness. Great way to begin the day!

More wonders await me, though. I’m still rather new to the whole celebration of Advent and consequently, I’m constantly learning about the traditions that surround it. As I was setting up the Nativity, I placed Joseph and Mary to one side of the manger, the shepherd, animals and magi to the other. My girlfriend (who’s a good Lutheran, and thus knows about things like this) took one look at it and said “You can’t put the Wise Men there!”

“Why not?”

“Because,” she explained, “they weren’t there for the birth of Jesus so their place in the Nativity is separate from the rest to show that they are traveling to visit Jesus.”

Now, I knew this about the Wise Men, that they were not present at the birth of Christ but late-comers, as it were. It’s one of the points used in conservative Churches of Christ to mock those who celebrate Christmas. They look at Nativity scenes, uncritically and without serious consideration, and assume that other Christians don’t read their Bibles and therefore have no idea that the Wise Men weren’t present on that Holy Night. Perhaps, if I hadn’t taken such an arrogant view when I was younger, I could have appreciated my neighbors Nativities more.

And so, Alison rearranged the scene, putting the Wise Men off to the side and separating them from the manger scene.

Still, there is one item that makes our Nativity a little unorthodox. One of the Magi’s hands has broken off so we laid it by the manger giving the appearance that baby Jesus is being visited by shepherds, their flocks and Thing from the Addams family.

This Advent, may you know the joy of the Incarnation and the hope of Christ’s second and final Advent, for which we eagerly await.

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