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Christmas and December Board: The Women at Jesus’ Manger

Mary gives birthI look at my nativity scene and I wonder, where are the women at the manger? I am certain they were there. Surely Mary was in labor when she and Joseph arrived at the inn; otherwise they would have searched farther for lodgings.

Does anyone think that the news of a young girl giving birth to her first babe, with only her husband to help, would not be shared among the women at the inn? Women rich and poor, young and old, childless or experienced in childbirth must have talked it over and pitied a young girl so alone.

Certainly they came to help with water, clean cloths, encouragement, and tender care. When after many hours they summoned Joseph to see his son, the women slipped back to their rooms to care for their own families. So it is for women in history – they were there, they acted, but what they did often goes unmentioned.

This Christmas take time to imagine the women by the manger, sisters in the joyous moment, gathered smiling around the holy babe.

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Christmas and December Board: Mistletoe Hairpin

A hairpin, a few pearls, and a gathered knot of green felt – what can they tell us about Christmas? A woman gets dressed and in her hair she perches this tiny ornament, guaranteeing an evening of appreciative laughter and maybe kisses!

Christmas is a holiday in which we become absorbed. All through December it works magic in every corner of life. There develops a perfect need for greenery on fireplace mantels and at the base of candlesticks and the smell of pine trees indoors is what we want. Bells jingle on doorknobs; gleams of gold and silver brighten everything, everywhere. Santa’s jolly face adorns our clothing, our gift bags, our houses, and more.

We change how we say hello and good-bye, for “Merry Christmas” means, “I am thinking of your Christmas Day and hoping your home will be a bower of good feeling and warmth.” We change what we eat in honor of Christmas. Family receipts come out to lengthen tradition with one more celebration. Cookie sheets are slid from lower cupboards so that reindeer, gingerbread men, stars, wreaths, bells, and symbols of Christmas will be sprinkled with red and green sugar and eaten with more pleasure than mere “ordinary time” cookies.

And, of course, there appears — small or large, highly colored or marble white, outdoors on the lawn or inside in a place of honor — the reason for the season, a scene of a woman and man rejoicing over a modest event, the birth of yet another baby, but this child surrounded by signs of the miraculous.

Its encompassing, energetic joy may be why Christmas is so resented. We become immersed in Christmas. It is a large holiday and properly celebrated it is everywhere. From store windows and spreads in national magazines to lawn crèches, neighborly charity, and hometown parades, Christmas creates a kindness and joy, a sharing that opens hearts and binds close those who love it.

What a powerful holiday it must when even lowly hairpins take on Christmas garb.

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