Friends, welcome to day two of our Christmas Story: The Crèche.
What is a crèche? I don't know if it's a term specific to New Orleans, but the "crèche" is what I and many of my girls from Sacred Heart girls call the Nativity scene.
I can remember driving through the neighborhoods as a child and seeing the large plastic ones in people's front yards. Inside their homes people would have a place designated specifically for their Nativity. In front of churches you would see the grander ones. They didn't light up like the plastic ones, but they still had a luminesence to them that always took my breath away. But my absolute favorite was my Mother's. She had the most breathtaking crèche scene. Colorful, detailed, and beautifully crafted, I used to play with the individual pieces all the time~especially Baby Jesus. I thought it was so cool that I could take him in and out of the makeshift bed he was in and move him to different places around the scene. My favorite place was on top of the head of Joseph. I don't think my Mother thought it was quite as cool. Until I was older she began leaving his bed empty until Christmas Day.
These days you just don't see crèche scenes as often as you used to. Some churches still have them, of course, and I'm sure people still display them within their homes, but I saw a lot more Christ in Christmas when I was growing up.
During Christmastime I google pictures of crèche scenes to see what's out there. There are so many beautiful ones. Then I look to my right, as I'm doing at this moment, to the one I purchased two years ago. I'd been looking for a crèche scene for our family for years. But either the price was far too high, the display too big, or we were living someplace where they just weren't available (Japan). I'd all but given up my search when I stumbled accross the one we have now. Literally. It was on the ground at a store, I wasn't looking, tripped over it, then found myself at eye-level with what I'd been searching for for ages.
It'll sound cliche, but it was exactly what I had envisioned. Bonus: it's all one piece so a certain someone with clever little fingers can't move or loose the baby Jesus. I know how tempting it is; I've been there. And in spite of the immovable figures, it still captures the attention of everyone in our home. The scallywag loves it most of all. He'll touch the faces and ask about the story of the Nativity.
To me, this is what makes our crèche the most important, valuable of all our Christmas items. It keeps the story of Jesus in the forefront of our thoughts, even in the very young mind of my son. We can enjoy the parties, the presents, dressing up and celebrating Santa's arrival and those of our family members. And why shouldn't we? That's part of the fun of Christmas. But we also celebrate the arrival of Jesus and know that even when the tree is put away and our families return home, He is still with us in our hearts.
His is a season that does not end.