…hope… in a changing world…

I remember the snowy night Tom and I bought our first nativity. Woolworth’s was our favorite shopping place as newlyweds, a very popular five and dime store in America until 1997.  I had worked the candy and jewelry counter before we married, and knew of all the different nativity sets available.  After opening every box and inspecting the details and craftsmanship, we chose this one, handmade in Italy.

1964… our first Christmas together.

This year, 2020, as I opened the treasured Christmas containers, it was as if 55 celebrations of this season danced around me.  As I set this particular one in place, I stopped to hear what the donkey and cow sheltered in their stable might say this year. What stories? What memories…

Said the donkey… “I can hear how  excited those four  children were every December, saying, “Oh, I remember this from last year.” He added,  “I can still hear the strong voice of the father as he read our story on Christmas Eve.”  The cow mooed in agreement, thinking how sad the children were the time one of the Wise Men was discovered  broken. They both smiled at the memory of being  lovingly placed each year in the stable by those small hands.

I am sure the donkey and the cow were saddened the year  there were no children exclaiming in joy when the padded box they had been sleeping in was opened. Have they realized life has slowed down; there are less happy, crowded celebrations these past years?

Of course, these are my reflections as I consider these times; no matter the outward changes, I am captivated once again as this silent night comes alive. We have multiple nativity sets and depictions of the birth of the Savior, bought wherever we happened to be or gifted to us from around the world. Each image of the manger scene is culturally different; the African ones are beautiful.  I love every one… from Switzerland, Denmark, Austria, Kenya, Honduras…and this one from Sopron, Hungary. I remember well my feet were almost ice frozen the night we bought this pottery manger  in a small village…


… memories…

But it is  our first nativity set that holds and protects every ‘holy-day’ memory in my Christmas bank. As I reflect on the scene in front of me, trying to balance that with the changes around me, I tearfully ask… where have all the Christmases gone? For brief moments these quieter years, I can cry for what is lost, for the pain in saying good-byes, for the questions of the ‘what-ifs’…

“But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation.” Psalm 13:5

Throughout all the changes in life, I am reminded the account of the nativity has not been altered  in any detail. The story in 1964 is the same as in 2020. How crucial for our faith, how important to know the facts are forever true, never changing.

This particular stable in the picture above is the fourth, or is it the fifth ‘new’ construction Tom has built these 55 years; I have added a sheep or two, and the story survives without the broken third wise man. Each figure continues to speak softly, confidently in our changing world …

Woolworth’s in America is forever gone. (Though I understand this store still operates in Germany and Austria! I wonder if it is the same as I remember in Tennessee.)There are changes for us, yes, every day, every month, but the truth of Christmas is etched forever in our hearts.

These past months of a world wide pandemic, producing fear and anxious moments, have perhaps caused us to lose hope. Whatever  changes or losses you may  experience,  I encourage you to remember… remember that one memory… that binds you to the truth of this greatest message ever given. “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be to all people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is Christ the Lord.” Luke 2:10,11.

Hope is paramount in the Christmas  story. These days when I crumble in the chaos of life changing around me… I stop. I remember…  I focus on the hope shouted that silent night, filling heaven with music: “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13

This year when the nativity scenes are packed away, I will cling to memories, yes, but more than that,  I determine to hold tightly to the truth that the story of Christmas never changes.

… hope… I share this gift with you…


About oct17

The little girl in me loves bird watching, butterflies, sunrises, sunsets, walks in the rain; the adult I am enjoys the same. I sense God's awesomeness in all of life--what wonder there is in slicing a leek or cutting open a pomegranate. I have many favorite things--a formation of Canadian geese flying overhead, the giggles of my grand daughters, the first ripe watermelon in summer, snowflakes on my face--these gifts from my heavenly Father delight me continually.
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9 Responses to …hope… in a changing world…

  1. eadkins says:

    Merry Christmas Sent from my Galaxy Tab® A

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Lori Harvey says:

    Merry Christmas

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Glenda says:

    So beautiful Barb. Helped me go back to 54 Christmas years to shopping at Woolworth’s also. Sam and I had only been married 6/7 weeks. Shopping was exciting because it was a completely different experience for us. On the way to Lenox shopping mall after work we had a car accident that was not our fault (long story). After going to bed that night I work up Early in the morning very much disturbed over what all had happened the night before, but more than that God was working in my spirit telling me something I didn’t quite understand. Our parents didn’t have much and so Sam and I had paid for our own wedding. I had lived in an apartment with used furniture and a bedroom suit I had bought several years before moving into the apartment. We had bought a couch, a chair and a few tables for our living room. God was dealing with my heart about tithing and I did not understand all about this concept as I had gone from Presbyterian, Methodist and to Baptist churches. I told Sam that I felt that we were robbing God. We were buying things for ourselves and leaving out the most important things. He had been in the Baptist Church and its teaching much longer than I and we discussed this principal and its meaning. Beginning the next Sunday we began to tithe 10% of our income and proud to say much later begun to give beyond that amount to missions that God’s Word could be spread around the world. We’ve learned the joy of true giving from the heart for others to come to know this precious baby/Savior of the World. You can’t out give for the joy it brings not only to ourselves in giving but to others to be blessed as well. This Christmas, none like ever before, we pray for those who have an empty chair this year for the love ones they have lost and for our family members who do not know this precious Savior to come to know Him in 2021. Even in all this craziness we must continue to hold to the Faith and spread the joy of the blessings God wants to bestow on all that will accept and call on the name of Jesus. Oh, how we look forward to His coming back for us hopefully one day soon.

    Merry Christmas our friends and may we hold on to these memories and blessings He has bestowed upon us through these years and continue to share His Christmas Story.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. emount1000@aol.com says:

    I loved reading this! Can relate!Love you sweet godly lady!Elaine

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Vinette says:

    Dearest Barb, This is so beautiful. Again, I hear your voice as I read your reflections, written with so much truth, love and the added reassurance of The Hope we have in Christ Jesus. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Gail says:

    I am from Nashville, TN, and my mother bought her nativity set at Woolworths in Donelson in the early 1960s! I am 61 and my sister still displays it every Christmas (it still has all the original figures (with the exception of the shepherd which was broken) and the original cardboard creche. I loved this set when I was a little girl and loved setting it up every year. I so miss Woolworths!!!!


    • oct17 says:

      Oh, Gail, I love reading this. Thank you for sharing. I thought… wonder if I could have waited on your mother the time she bought her nativity from Woolworth’s. I read several of your midnight thoughts…. good reads…

      Liked by 1 person

      • Gail says:

        Thank you! We frequented Woolworth’s ALL the time and I’m sure you probably waited on my mother! How long did you work there?
        My sisters and I all purchased the little Red Eared Slider turtles Woolworth’s used to sell.
        One lived to be 36 years old!!

        You can see a photo of my mom’s old nativity set from Woolworths in a blog I wrote in 2011 called A Few Happy Christmas Memories. There is also a picture of a Santa Kreiss figurine that you might remember. My mother got that from Woolworth’s also and told us she paid $1 for it. It is a treasured family heirloom and I display it on my mantle every year! Here is the link.


  7. Belinda says:

    AMEN to this hope!


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