It arrived in a toilet paper roll. I am sure very few things that we adore in life arrive in such simple packaging, but this was mine.
It was in my stocking of all places dozens and dozens of Christmases ago. I remember thinking it was a joke my brother had no doubt played; wrapping up a toilet paper roll to get a laugh on Christmas Eve. But my mother insisted I look inside.
There inside was the tiniest hand carved camel. I knew it well. It was the most perfect little camel that was part of the most beautiful nativity I had ever seen. I had fallen in love with it at the store knowing the price precluded the present. But my mom had convinced the shopkeeper to let her buy one or two pieces at a time. A tradition began. First the baby camel, the next year, the mama. Then the baby Jesus.
All these years later, I take the box out of my closet and I wait. To this day, this little set is so very dear to me. I always get the kids in the mix when putting it out. They have heard a thousand times how I would wait for a piece every Christmas until well into my twenties.
They roll their eyes and unwrap. The tenderness of it all is somehow lost on them.
There is a significance that is hidden away, perhaps lost on my children, how the set didn’t arrive as a set, how I sensed the sacrifice of my mom and dad buying one or maybe two pieces each year, how the passion I felt was shared by them even if it was a frivolity.
The set grew and somehow so did my faith. The trust of a treasure in my stocking every year, the nativity taking center stage in our decorating, mine in my little bedroom, mom’s in her living room.
I wonder today what takes center stage.
We seem to muster up the tree in short order but I am so focused on getting the kids minds and hearts on the little wood Jesus; I wait until the perfect moment, which simply never presents itself.
Perfection was in the manger. Perfection rarely shows up on my watch.We have to find our camels and our calm, you and I, in between toils and toilet paper rolls.
We have to start asking ourselves is it the Creche or perhaps the crush of Christmas? I drop into bed every single day after Thanksgiving as if I have run a marathon, only I have forgotten the finish line or worse, misplaced its significance.
I long for simple.
I long for little camels in toilet paper rolls that remind me of the simplicity of the birth, of the message, of a Savior that came for one reason - to save. I cannot imagine how He would view Christmas – the complicated, modern Christmas of today.
When I muster the kids together and I get out the manger and the baby and the camel...I pray I can remember the same. There is little doubt the kids will be looking for what comes under the tree... hopefully I, we can focus on the tree.
The significance of one life, one tree, one death, one Holiness that takes the place of a billion sins and my frivolity and stupidity.
I adore the decorations and the details, but truly, it is He that is our gift.