Len Porter’s prized nativity set got another coat of paint by his mother.
Len writes: Without fail my mother considered herself of royal American pioneer lineage. She was a daughter of the prairie – a princess! In keeping with her self proclaimed status she felt she had the remarkable responsibility to always abide by the rules, respect those less fortunate, plan for the future, and, by and large, strive for perfection. She upheld this persona with amazing proficiency . . . until she coated my prized ceramic nativity with ivory house paint!
She had been with me when I purchased this nativity set. The acquisition was made in Tazewell County, Illinois when I was five or six. The size was just right – not too large nor too small. The set, made in occupied Japan, marked the end of World War II and the attempt to normalize trade in the aftermath. But international commerce was not on my mind at the time. I was instead intrigued with the entire set – baby Jesus, Mary, Joseph, the Kings, the shepherd and the animals. The porcelain pieces were painted with a variety of delicate colors. It was beautiful. Here were the principals of the Christmas story for me to move about, think about, and understand.
All was well with my nativity set for about thirty years. It remained safely with my parents. I was sure it was in good hands.
Then the house paint! What does one do when their mother, a princess by all definitions, slops ivory house paint on a Christmas treasure?
Quick action was impossible. I plotted carefully. First I gained control of the nativity (and the original box). Each member of the party was gummed up and looking ridiculous. I believe the paint remover was called Strypeze. The restoration was effective enough to regain most of the original color. But what to do about my mother? For about ten years I kept the set hidden.
After the nativity again appeared and the set was proudly displayed for all to see – including my mother – not a word was spoken in its regard.
I’ve had this set for sixty-two years (give or take). It reminds me, of course, of the Christmas story, the love of Christ, his family, and those who came to see him at the time of his birth. It also reminds me of a lovely loving mother who taught by example and word the real meaning of Christmas. I also learned even an American princess might make one mistake.
Scripture: Matthew 12:46-50
Thought for the Day: Jesus enlarges our view of family of origin to family of God.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, we are grateful that You have so ordered our lives that we are born into families. We acknowledge that sometimes we have difficulty relating to and getting along with our families and especially during the hectic pace of the holidays. Forgive us when we hurt the ones we dearly love. Keep us mindful that we all belong to Your family through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, in whose name, we pray. Amen.