My family has never made a huge deal out of decorating for Christmas, but there are a few traditions that are non-negotiable. First, we decorate the Christmas tree, and as we put up the decorations we tell the story of each ornament. Almost all of them are homemade, and they all carry some sort of meaning. Next, we hang up the stockings. Then, we clear off the piano to put up decorations and hang the wreath on the door. Finally, we come to the climax of Christmas decorating. There is a white porcelain Nativity scene, and it is identical to one my mom had in her house when she was a young girl. We unpack each individual piece, in all of their elegance, and place them on the buffet in the living room. My parents unpack the boxes and my sisters and I arrange the characters.
The donkey peeks out from behind the stable, the three wise men hold their gifts, the angel hangs delicately from the top, and the shepherds wait expectantly. The Holy Family huddles together inside the stable, and serenity settles in. The pieces are all set, but still we are not quite done.
When we were younger, my sister started playing a game. She would mime one of the porcelain characters, and we would guess which one she was emulating. We would stand around and laugh as she positioned her body like the camel, the donkey, and sweet baby Jesus. However, her favorite character to act like has always been the woman standing in the stable.