The Nativity Set
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“The Nativity Set,” Friend, Dec. 2004, 40–41

The Nativity Set

(Based on an experience of the author’s friend)

Three-year-old Elizabeth watched as her mother arranged the ceramic nativity set on the low table in front of the sofa. Her mother had made the set many years earlier. Each year she told the children that she had painted each figure. Then she reminded everyone to be very careful because the figures could be easily broken.

Elizabeth loved to look at the figures, especially that of the baby Jesus. One day, she picked it up and held it reverently.

Mother walked into the living room at that moment. “Elizabeth, those pieces are breakable,” she gently reminded her.

Elizabeth carefully replaced the figure. “I know, Mommy.”

Each day, Elizabeth was drawn to the nativity set. She frowned when she noticed that the camel couldn’t see the Christ child. She moved the camel closer to the manger. Then she saw that the Wise Men, shepherds, and other animals couldn’t see Jesus either. She set the manger in the center of the table with all the others surrounding it.

She smiled. That looked much better.

When Mother saw what Elizabeth had done, she explained again how special the nativity set was and then replaced the figures in their original places.

The next day, Elizabeth stared at the nativity set. Once again, she set the baby Jesus in the center with Mary, Joseph, the shepherds, Wise Men, and animals looking on.

When Mother walked into the room and saw the nativity set, she wasn’t happy. “Elizabeth, I told you—”

“Don’t you see, Mommy?” Elizabeth asked. “Everyone wants to see the baby Jesus.”

Tears rolled down Mother’s cheeks. “I see, Elizabeth. I finally understand.” She kissed the top of Elizabeth’s head. “We’ll leave it just as it is.”

In the years that followed, the nativity set was always grouped as Elizabeth had arranged it. Jesus was in the center, where everyone could see Him.

  • Jane McBride Choate is a member of the Big Thompson Ward, Loveland Colorado Stake.

Illustrated by Dick Brown