i unflap a cardboard box soft from years of waiting in damp spaces, pull out a painted tin stable and slide it deep on the shelf of our dining room window.
the littles jostle and crowd to help peel back layers of tissue from each resin figure, and we take turns assembling the scene: the angel, the wise men (who were a bit ahead of schedule), the donkey, a pair of awfully cute sheep. a shepherd. proud, bewildered parents. baby Jesus in a feed box.
after the kiddos have scampered off to find play or sleep, my inner perfectionist is unleashed. i rearrange the small pieces just so: the wise guys stage right and facing outward, monsieur shepherd and his duo of wooly folk opposite the Christ child, angled at such a degree that we can see how his face alights with wonder.
the next morning, however, i amble past the window to find that someone has rearranged my rearrangement:
and so i scoot the pieces out, spin them a good one-eighty so i can see their faces again, stagger small figures with large until the composition's right.
i walk away.
and lo and behold, i happen by the window not twenty minutes later to find that my little rearranger is persistent:
and i say, guys! in the general direction of the kids. (in my vocabulary guys is an equal opportunity term pertaining to all sexes.) and i say, who keeps messing with this? who keeps crowding everyone around the manger and giving us this fantastic view of their backs?
and i'm working whilst complaining, ever the multi-tasker, swinging each figure out and around to face us, making them back off and spread out, and you know. look right.
and the kids blink at me and one of them says quiet-like, mom. but they came to see Jesus, right?
i pause with a sheep in one hand, marinate in my foolishness for a moment. and of course they came to see Jesus, the one who forges stars and gives planetary systems a twirl and washes a winter sunrise soft with cream. of course they're pressing close around Jesus.
and so the children help me again, and we turn and scoot every wise man, every shepherd and angel and sheep and donkey to huddle close to God the Son, our hearts revolving around the hope of all creation.
"The people walking in darkness
have seen a great light...
For unto us a child is born." (Isaiah 9.2&6)