Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Searching for Jesus in the Local Bargain Store

Last year when the Christmas Tree Shoppe opened my daughter and I couldn't wait to go and explore it. It was early October but quite cool. The store was located in a new outlet, and so we had a lot of walking through alleyways to get to our destination. I remember being anxious to get out of the wind and into a warm store. My first visit I only browsed the aisles to see what kind of merchandise the store carried. I was pleasantly surprised at the array of both holiday and everyday products and made note to come back to buy some new Christmas decorations.

A whole year later I finally did that. I went back to the store armed with a circular and money, ready to find some great holiday deals to brighten our home. But what I wanted most of all was a nativity set. I have been married for twenty years and in that time we have collected our share of ornaments and decorations. But the only nativity set I had was the cardboard one my son had made in kindergarten. As of this writing he is close to nineteen years old so you can only imagine how the years have weathered that tiny, home made set. The little clay Mary and Joseph are missing assorted parts, the crib has cracked and the hay (which was made from construction paper straw) has faded to an unrecognizable color. So at the top of my shopping list was 'nativity set'.

I plowed through dozens of aisles like the other determined shoppers, trying to find the aisle where the nativity sets were on display. I wanted to see what styles and sizes were available that would suit the spot where I placed it for the holy season. There was an entire aisle dedicated to over sized plastic snowmen, penguins, candy canes and Santas. There were three aisles with endless ornaments in a rainbow of solid colors, glitter balls, Disney characters and favorite cartoons. I found aisles with Santa hats, Christmas stockings and holiday attire for your cat and dog. I didn't even count the aisles of holiday china, paper goods and specialty foods. But after forty minutes of browsing amidst the shoving and pushing I had still not come across the nativity sets.

I had had enough of shopping as I'm not much of a shopping person to begin with. I was already going through local stores in my mind, trying to determine my next stop, when I spun around and found myself facing a small shelf filled to the brim with white boxes. I wouldn't have given those boxes a second thought had one box not been facing outward to reveal a nativity scene. I turned a few of the boxes around and on their front was the same nativity scene. Somehow, for whatever reason, they had been shelved facing the wall so that no one could know what the boxes contained. And from the look of it, it seemed that no one had been interested enough to even look.

I picked up the box that had been facing outward and placed it in my wagon. Though some people would have looked through the other boxes, maybe even opened one or two to see that the contents were intact, I took that lone box as a sign. He had done for me what I couldn't seem to do for myself - He had led me to the item at the top of my list that had been my sole purpose in coming to that store.

I haven't opened that box yet. I carefully placed it in the closet with all the other holiday decorations in anticipation of the day I open it and set it in a carefully chosen place. A friend asked "But what if it's broken and you've had it too long to return it?" But I'm not worried. To me that nativity set was hand picked for me and I have no doubt it is just right.


  1. Growing up in the mid-1960's we had a real wood nativity set, with divided stalls for the various farm animals and elegantly painted six-inch high figurines for the wise men, Joseph, Mary, and of course baby Jesus laying in the manger. There was a built in music box at the side, which played Silent Night when the tiny handle was turned. The roof of the stable was angled, and at the top edge a star was carved. That nativity scene held up through childish handling, multiple moves, and even two floods that completely submerged much of the holiday decorations. Sadly, today it is long gone. But I still remember each detail, and I still miss not having it around come Christmas morning.

  2. I love this story,Christina! i'm curious as to how it ended. Post it at JWW if you can so I don't miss it.

    Jay Hudson