We had not planned on bringing out the Nativity set until Gaudete Sunday. The plan was to have the Advent wreath on the early weeks of Advent. The rest, namely the Nativity set and the Christmas tree, would join the Advent wreath on Gaudete Sunday.
Laura's empty stable spoke so eloquently to me. Nothing can more graphically emphasize that Advent is a time of waiting and preparing and being ready when the Infant Jesus arrives.
Rosie talked about how they would start out the shepherds and the wise men on, say, a shelf some distance from the stable and watch them as they approach closer towards the Nativity set on Christmas and Epiphany, in the case of the wise men. No matter how long I sit and think, I would never, never be able to come up with that idea... another case of eloquence in silence.
As you may have guessed by now, I snagged their ideas.
And I share with you the results...
I should have taken a before-shot, but the camera battery was charging while I was working on the altar changes. We used to have an image of the Holy Family, a crucifix, three solemn-looking small wooden angels, a blessed palm branch from Palm Sunday, and a framed photo of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
This is how the altar table looks now.
I kept the crucifix where it is to remind us why God the Son became Man. I also kept the framed photo of Our Lady of Guadalupe on the wall (but again, I failed to take a photo).
The plastic frame to the left of the stable displays an old greeting card with a Bethlehem landscape. I covered the message on the lower part of the card with this:
Then, I happily went about situating the Nativity characters.
I decided to put the two animals in the stable. It would be nice if Saint Joseph and the Blessed Mother would be welcomed by living things instead of mere hay and the wood on the walls; it would help them settle in better.
Saint Joseph and the Blessed Mother are staying on our small shelf for prayer books; it is on the same wall where the Rosary rack is.
One shepherd is with his lamb on top of Only Son's desk.
The second shepherd, who I assume was the first to behold the angels, is on top of Second Daughter's desk.
I decided to keep the three wise men together on my desk, which is also occasionally used by Eldest Daughter and Youngest Daughter.
They will all be inching on to the stable as Christmas nears. The Infant Jesus will take His place when we arrive from the Midnight Mass. And as Rosie reminds us, the wise men will arrive around Epiphany.
Now, where is that chicken? There used to be a hen in this Nativity set. I even remember Youngest Daughter being unable to decide whether it stays on the roof or inside the stable.
And I thought I exercised diligence when I put away the Nativity set in January.
Experience has taught me that if you don't properly store AND label your Christmas articles (I hesitate to use "decor," especially in the case of the Nativity set and the Advent wreath), you are setting up yourself for confusion the next time you need them. And we are not even talking about Christmas lights yet.
To store the Nativity set last January, I used a shoe box wrapped with leftover contact paper. Shredded paper cushioned the breakable images. No, I didn't label the box, and I was relieved that I had to open only three boxes before coming upon it.
Finally, to make sure that I didn't sneeze while unpacking the Nativity set, I carefully set aside the shredded paper by small fistfuls into a paper bag, which went inside the box after the unpacking.
Have a good and peaceful third week of Advent, everyone!
Thank you so much, Laura and Rosie, for your beautiful ideas.