One of my Christmas decorations is a firm favourite with my godchildren: it is a set of Nativity stacking dolls. Borrowing from the tradition of Russian Dolls, mine feature characters from the Nativity story. Nestling inside the three kings are a shepherd, Mary, an angel, a donkey and in the middle is a tiny baby Jesus wrapped in swaddling bands.
I love Christmas and the Christmas season: I love choosing gifts for those I love; I love the way in which the least powerful people in our society – those who are homeless, those who are vulnerable, those who are poor – receive a focus they are denied for the rest of the year; I love spending time with my family and friends; I love sending and receiving Christmas cards with their messages from friends near and far; I love the sense of excitement as people travel by train, plane and automobile (though probably not donkey) to be home in time for Christmas. These are enjoyable trappings and we do not need to apologise for enjoying them but at the heart of all this is a baby lying in a manger. Jesus is the reason for the season as the saying goes but it is so easy to lose sight of him in the midst of all the trimmings and stresses that come with Christmas. The dolls remind us that Jesus is the reason for the donkey’s journey; Jesus was the message the angels brought; Jesus was the child who Mary bore; Jesus was the one who shepherds came to worship; Jesus was the reason the kings brought their gifts.