A Christmas Story

I went in the thrift store Tuesday looking for a basket I could line to put my baby in. I didn’t find one. I looked around to see if they had a nice box but they didn’t. I went to the store afterward and got a casket and memory box. While I was at the thrift store I noticed they had a number of Christmas things out, notably some Christmas village houses, the kind with the light inside. I was fairly despondent so I didn’t think about it too much.

Today we were going to be setting up the Christmas tree and putting the lights on. I had given some thought to how I wanted to do some of the decorating. I don’t know how much sense it makes but I wanted to deliberately do something different. Even though we didn’t have either of these babies for a Christmas with us, I had mentally worked them in and felt the need to change things around so I wasn’t thinking so much about how they weren’t here with us. You may remember the mantle I did last year. I suddenly thought about those village pieces and remembered that we had one already. What if I got a few more and did a little village on the mantle? Father said to go back to the store and get them. They were only a few dollars each anyway.

This afternoon I went back to the thrift store. I immediately picked up two buildings that appeared to be in working order. After glancing around I realized that the staff had put out a lot more Christmas stuff since Tuesday. I decided to have a look around. I found two old-fashioned china St. Nicholas figures and put them with the houses. Then I saw it.

A few rows over I saw the back of a stable. It looked just like the one we had when I was growing up. I held my breath and walked around to the other side. It was. It was almost exactly like the nativity stable I remembered. I was just beginning to be sorry there were no figures when my eyes caught sight of a small, decrepit cardboard box next to the stable. I looked inside. Wrapped in fragile brown paper were the figures. I carefully picked through them and realized the whole set was there. And they looked just like the ones we had growing up. I checked the price. Four dollars. I nearly cried right there in the store.

I got it, of course. I brought it home and showed Father. We both thought it was a Fontanini set – the base of each piece said “Italy”. Father checked online and it is indeed a Fontanini, probably from the 1960’s. How it got into the thrift store I’ll never know. They had just put it out and the woman said she hadn’t even looked through the box to see if all the pieces were there.

I’ve wanted one of these for years. We priced them last year but they start at at least $100. The overwhelming feeling I had, standing in the store (irrational or not) was that this was the babies’ Christmas present to me. I wept when I got home and put all the pieces out. The only thing I had wanted for Christmas this year I couldn’t have. But they gave me a Nativity scene.

Merry Christmas in Heaven, sweethearts.

15 thoughts on “A Christmas Story

  1. What a beautiful Nativity set! Small signs that we receive here and there… yet, they give us a bit more hope and strengths. Praying for you….

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  2. Oh how the Lord works to bring us Comfort and Joy in our times of grief!! It is a beautiful and blessed set! My parents have an “off brand” version of that set and I always loved it. I love the idea of including our babies lost in Christmas. I think I shall. I have always just moved on quickly and quietly, but the fact is, I have 3 more beautiful children, so why not remember and include them! Thank you for such a quiet, peaceful, personal reminder.

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  3. My grandmother gave me the same Nativity set, it's beautiful. I always hang a stocking for my first baby, even tho I put nothing in it. But the sad thing is I never told anybody why, I assume that they would all think I'm crazy. Merry Christmas to your babies

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  4. That is a wonderful story. Sometimes, when we least expect it, God reaches out and touches us in an unmistakeable way, reminding us that He really is there and He really is paying attention and He really does love us. I'm glad it happened to you.

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  5. What a beautiful story and truly a gift to you, from the Giver. Thanks for sharing the story and the pictures. The Nativity set is lovely, and made especially so by its connection to your childhood.

    (another) Elizabeth

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  6. That brought tears to my eyes as well. What a lovely gift — made me think of an old protestant hymn “God moves in a mysterious way, His wonders to perform.” Prayers continuing.

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  7. Your sweet soul is torn apart, but Christmas is coming. Again.
    And again, the Son of God comes so humble and meek for you, for me, for everyone.
    Your children will need the joy of Christmas again, like in past years.
    May God comfort your heart every day, so you can feel this big joy along with your wonderful family.
    Praying for you…

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