Yesterday was our decorating party. Spiced apple cider was mulling in the crock pot, filling the house with a festive aroma. Pumpkin pie awaited us when we sat down at the end, lit the lights on the tree, and admired our work.
The highlight of the decorating each year is unpacking the the large, olive wood nativity and carefully arranging the figures atop the piano.
As we unwrap each piece, and I feel through the packing for the smallest figure–the baby Jesus. When I find the him, I quietly place him in my pocket instead of laying him in the manger. Then, with the carved infant Jesus in my pocket, I head off toward the master bedroom humming, “Low in the grave He lay, Jesus, my savior….”
Why do I do this, you ask? Well, we adapted the French custom of hiding away the infant Lord until Christmas morning. Each morning leading up to Christmas, our children will eagerly check the nativity asking, “Did He come yet?” Each morning, the long awaited messiah has yet to appear, although the other figures are already in position. (Purists move the magi closer each day, etc, but we just arrange the figures in their ultimate positionsexcept for the baby Jesus.)
The children enjoy the game of checking to see if Jesus has come each morning, and finally, on Christmas morning, there he is! The children excitedly chorus, “He CAME! Jesus CAME!” We do Christmas stockings, and other things Christmas morning (Although we dont really do Santathe children know the stockings are from Mommy and Daddy.) The wee folk awaken excited to see if Jesus is in the manger, and this tradition is one of the many things we do to keep our focus on Christ.
You may still be wondering why I was humming, “Low in the grave He lay, Jesus, my savior….” as I hid the baby Jesus? Well, in looking for a hiding place one year, I decided on a curio cabinet in our bedroom. In this cabinet, is some of the China and crystal, including the china gravy boat. Because it is in a room the children do not frequent, the little lidded gravy boat seemed a good place to place the special figure.
Thus when hiding him, I hum, “Low in the Gravy Lay, Jesus my Savior.”
And on Christmas eve, after the children are tucked in bed, I'll be heard quietly singing to myself, “Up from the Gravy arose!”