December 23, 2020

25 Stories to Christmas

As December approached in the year when I was expecting my third child, I decided I wanted to tell the Christmas story to our two children, five-year-old Barbie and six-year-old Carl, in a way they would find meaningful. Wouldn’t it be fun, I thought, to tell it in a series of installments, one each day from December 1st to 25th? I couldn’t find a children’s book that told the stories in this way, so I decided to write them myself. One by one, I cranked out the daily readings on my trusty Smith-Corona electric typewriter, retelling the scriptures in child-friendly language.

On December 1st, Don and I sat down on our living room couch with our two kids between us, and I read the first story, “A Time of Waiting.” Then we got out the sturdy nativity set I had bought. After we held and admired all the figures, we put them back in their box. The second night, after reading “A Land that Waited,” we took out the stable and empty manger and placed them on the sideboard in our dining room in a setting we created from materials we gathered from our backyard. Each night, as new characters appeared in the readings, we took the figures from their box and positioned them in a spot as far away from the manger as our small house would allow.

As the December days progressed, we moved the figures closer, then closer, and then closer still. On Christmas Eve, the figures made it to the nativity scene—all but the last one. Early Christmas morning, before present unwrapping began, Carl and Barbie carefully laid the Baby Jesus in the manger. (Yes, he had to be placed there twice since both kids needed to do it.) I can still remember the joy on the faces of our little family as we surveyed our completed nativity scene. And I suspect

that the most joyful face was mine. Ten years later, while we were living in the Philippines, a talented Philippine artist named Butch Espinosa made ink drawings for each story and hand-lettered my typed pages, which had become frayed from yearly reading. I had copies of this “Calendar of Christmas” printed to give to my children and their children. Below is the drawing for Christmas Day:

Myra Nagel, Resident