Monday, December 19, 2011

A treasured Nativity

I took a class in college called Work and Relations in the Home. It was a very interesting class. Being a Family Science major I was able to take classes like this. One day I sat through a lecture centered around service. The teacher presented a new way to look at service. She was of the opinion that service shouldn't be anoyomous. That kind of went against everything I'd been taught growing up. I'd always been led to believe that effective service was service that you did silently, without any trumpets blowing and no aknowledgement. I thought the point was to serve for the act not so others could see you do the act. She disagreed entirely. In her opinion the most effective service was service that was seen--service that was known.

Through that class my eyes were opened and I've had many experiences that lead me to believe that she was completely right. This year we have had so many people serve us. It has been touching and I look forward to the day when I am in a better position to be the one returning the favor.

One night our door bell rang and Mike opened it up to find a stable. It was beautiful. On the stable was a note that simply said, "The 12 Days of Christmas." I was touched. Each day for 12 days our bell rang and the boys would run to the door and open it up to find a beautiful box sitting on our step. They each took a turn each night opening the present and revealing the next part of our nativity. There were oohs and awes at each piece. The boys would yell out the door, "Thank you whoever you are!" into the dark night.

I was given a tiny nativity from a friend in Oklahoma. It was perfect for the little boys, just their size, and they used to play with the pieces and rearrange them each day. I loved my tiny nativity but hoped to buy a larger one that I could display each year--one that wasn't for the boys to play with. Each year I would do a search on google and look at various nativity sets and contemplate buying one and every year I'd decide against it. I just couldn't find the right set.

When I dug out all the Christmas decorations this year I realized my little set was missing. Somehow in the move it's been lost, or misplaced. I was so sad that my only Nativity set was gone. So you can imagine my surprise and happiness at this particular gift.

Somehow it is just the perfect gift for me this year. My heart has been reaching, feeling for the joy of Christmas. It hasn't exactly been a depressing season for me, just a little empty I guess. The lights and smells and treats haven't had the same pleasure for me. But I've been thinking a lot about that quiet night in Bethlehem. I've been thinking about that perfect baby born in a stable. I've been thinking about the service we've been given in the last five months and the Christ-like example our friends, family, and neighbors have shown us.

I had wanted so badly to tell whoever it was that was serving us "thank you." Last night the final piece arrived on our doorstep. Inside was baby Jesus. There was also a note describing how each piece completes the Nativity, Jesus being the final piece. It said that likewise, our Nativity would be completed when Laila joined our family again--the piece we are missing. And then, at the end, they revealed who they were.

So I come back to my college class and the lecture on service. When we were being served in secret it held mystery and wonder and excitement. But it also held a tiny bit of sadness because I was helpless to personally thank them. I had no way of explaining that I had no Nativity set and that I'd always wanted one. I had no way of telling them that this Christmas in particular their service and the spiritual nature of their gift was exactly what I needed to focus more on the Savior. I needed something to help me remember the gift we were given of a perfect baby born in a stable, who died so we could live again. So my Laila could live again.

But now, my heart is knit forever to this family. I really liked this particular family before. I appreciated their example and devotion. I liked talking to them and being their friends. But now, I love them.

I understand now what my professor was trying to teach. When you serve in silence, the act is always appreciated (and I want to add that I feel there is a place for quiet acts of service--we enjoy a good door bell ditching as much as the next person). But when you let the person you are serving know, you give them the opportunity to have their hearts connected to yours forever. Not only do I know that I am loved, but I know who loves me. The Dictionary describes anonymous as "Having no outstanding, individual, or unusual features; unremarkable or impersonal." This service was certainly NOT unremarkable or impersonal. It will always hold a very personal meaning to me and I am grateful that now each year when I pull out my Nativity, I will not only think about the gift, but the family who game me the gift.


Jess and Jason said...

That is beautiful!

Kristi, Liezl, Quincy, Ava, and Josh said...

What a thoughtful gift.

JC Choate said...

That is really neat. What a special way to do that!

Joe and Liz said...

What sweet friends to do that. Thanks for sharing that and the insight on service. Hope you enjoy your Christmas season Adrianne.

chelsey said...

This brought tears to my eyes! What a wonderful gift for you and the family. Thanks to whomever it was that brought it to you. Thanks for sharing this post!

lrbodine said...

This post really made me think! At first I didn't understand the message but I totally get it now with your explanation and example. What a wonderful Christmas present for your family - both with the nativity and knowing that others love you and think about you!

Jed and Kera said...

That was such a sweet idea. I like knowing who served us too. It does allow you to feel connected to that family.

Frances said...

That is one of the best stories I've ever read. Thank you so much Adrianne.

Rachel Allen said...

What a kind gift. (I feel like I'm reading a book every time I read your posts. You're an amazing writer.)