With the Christmas tree also comes setting up the creche. I have a very special creche that was given to my parents as a wedding present, back in 1956. It is a Hummel Nativity scene, with each piece handmade by the German nuns who brought Bertha Hummel's creations to life.
This year started with a small panic when I could not locate the figurines. I feared that my husband had placed them in storage in anticipation of our move, despite his reassurances that they were somewhere in the house. As the kids and I readied the tree, he searched high and low . . . and happily found them. As I told him, I can have Christmas without a tree - I cannot have Christmas without my family creche.
I sent a text message to my priest, who was due to come over later that night for dinner - Can u bring holy h2o 2nite to bless my creche? I got my response - sure , no prob.
My sincere thanks to Fr. John Moneypenny who came with holy water and a book that contained the specific blessing for a Christmas creche - and more so to his sister-in-law, and now a friend of the family, Martha Moneypenny, who gave him water from Lourdes for the blessing! That was brilliant and such kindness! I later checked with my mother who said that despite all the years, she "never got around" to having the set blessed. Finally, it has been done and tonight it seemed different and more meaningful.
You will see in the picture that the figurine of the Holy Infant is not present, although it was when the set was blessed. On Christmas Eve, we follow another tradition from my family, when a child is chosen to read the story from the Gospel of Luke and Baby Jesus is placed in the manger - only then can Christmas "begin".
The practice of setting up a creche was popularized by St. Francis of Assisi. If you have not got one, now is the time to bring one into your house. It has always been such an essential part of Christmas to me and necessary for the home at the holiday.