It was Christmas day night, several years ago. My mom’s side of the family were all gathered in the living room, eating the regular turkey dinner and laughing and chatting in their usual old way. The room was decorated richly with a Christmas tree in the corner, lights, and a nativity. Children’s toys and wrappings were spread across the floor. No one would have thought that something was amiss. No one, that is, except for me and my seven-year-old eyes.
I had long finished opening my many presents and the excitement of it all had sort of worn off. I sat there, on the ground, staring at a place underneath the Christmas tree where a manger stood. An empty manger. My mom had set it up to help us remember Jesus, instead of just the presents under the tree. As I stared at it, I realized how very empty it was and how the manger needed something to fill it. And then I remembered, it’s Jesus’s birthday!
I dashed down the stairs as quickly as I could. I had to find or make or do something to celebrate. But what? What would Jesus want? No, not my doll or the play kitchen set or the dress-up box. Could I make something? No Christmas craft seemed worthy of Him. But He’s a king! What about a crown?
And so I made Him a paper crown. I coloured it gold and drew jewels on the edges. It was simple, unworthy, and hand-made but it was a gift all the same. I ran back upstairs and placed it in the manger as my gift to remember Jesus.
Now, ten years later, far past the paper-crown-making days, I’ve forgotten again. I’ve been stressed over little things and worried about my play and trying to figuring out how I can buy Christmas gifts for everyone. I think about when I’ll have time to bake shortbreads and how many people are coming to see me in A Christmas Carol. Yet I forget the whole reason for it all: Jesus’s birthday.
Perhaps paper crowns aren’t just for seven-year-olds. Maybe we could all learn something by colouring a paper and putting it in the manger.