Over this past Thanksgiving weekend Larry and I pulled out Christmas boxes so we could decorate for the season before time-warp happened and it got too late to enjoy it all! When I unpacked the box with this nativity (pictured) in it I sat for a moment just looking at it. It brought me back 28 years. I was pregnant with my 5th child and only boy. I had struggled with all of my pregnancies, miscarrying 6 times but thankfully was able to deliver 4 beautiful daughters full-term and healthy. This particular pregnancy was especially difficult as my pelvic bone was fractured and my hip bones moved out of place. Each step was excruciatingly painful so early in the pregnancy I was ordered into a wheelchair which I used for most of the 9 months.

By the time Christmas neared I was very pregnant (he was born Feb 3rd) and very emotional. I was in pain every day and couldn’t sleep well if at all during the night. I slept in a recliner (a dear friend loaned to me–thanks Mary Ann!). The recliner was my bed throughout the pregnancy and several months beyond until I could once again sleep without much pain in our own bed. It was a hard and lonely time even though every day I felt tremendous gratitude for our little family and the prospects of bringing a beautiful baby boy into our loving home.

I remember the day after Thanksgiving when Larry came into the room and in my tears I asked him if he would take me to the mall—which would be no easy task, to help me find a little nativity for our girls to play with. I wanted to put a nativity near the tree. He loaded me up into our van packing the wheelchair in the back and we heading to the mall where he wheeled me around. Most of the stares from folks said to me, “oh poor dear…she’s paralyzed and having a child?!” Some of the on-lookers had glares of pity and other faces were of the sweetest kind wanting to open doors and help where they could.

Being soo emotional I wanted the perfect nativity. We looked through every store but found nothing that could work. Then the thought came that maybe we could make one. We knew the girls had a baby (or two, or three, or four or more) to choose from and we knew we could probably find stuffed animals and some straw somewhere. The picture posted is of the finished product from our meager efforts all those years ago. The girls loved and adored HIM and anticipated their own baby brother coming. Larry and I loved this little manger scene as it represented so much more to us that year.

Now in its 28th year we have 18 grandchildren who have seen it, played with it, loved it and adored it because of what it represents to us and to their parents. Even our soon to be 28 year old son’s three year old little girl oohed and awed when she first saw it. She can’t comprehend what sacrifice this manger scene represents not only mine but especially HIS. Because of the life this baby in the manger lived, I could muster hope during those hard months and the ensuing years as my health declined, to live and endure my little struggles and to endure them well. HOPE is what this manger represents to me. The story behind it is a story of LOVE. So, we love this little scene for so many reasons and it will continue to be a part of our Christmases for many more years to come.

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