When I rang my mum this afternoon she was about to start setting up the crib ready for Christmas Eve. Every year the Nativity figures come out of their box, brown paper is crumpled up to make the cave and the wooden ornaments that stand on the living room shelves become part of the scene. It doesn’t matter that the original characters are made of plastic and are much smaller than the cotton wool sheep, or the wooden shepherds, or that a whole menagerie of zoo animals are pressed into service, this is how it has always been done.
Tomorrow, when her great-grand-children come over for their pre-Christmas visit, five year old Maddy will put the Christ child in the manger to mark the start of the celebrations.
Like Mum, I too set up the crib every year. Mine is in the dining room and is also made up of a disparate collection of figures and for me, too, it’s the start of Christmas. Because how can you have Christmas without a reference to the events that started it all?
Whether or not you believe, a story of a dispossessed family, helped by kindly strangers, is one that has and will continue to have relevance to the world we live in.
There is too, something comforting and life affirming about the passing down of family traditions from one generation to the next.