I had heard of people leaving gifts on others' doorsteps, one for each of twelve days leading up to Christmas. It sounded like a lovely idea, something that would be fun for the children, something I might want to try someday.
I never had any idea how much fun it would be to be on the receiving end!
Twelve days before Christmas, a small wooden model of a stable appeared on my doorstep. For so many years I wanted a nativity scene but did not have one. My brother Jon made me one a few years ago, but it is so fragile I can't let the children touch it. My mom gave us a toy one this year, but the kids play with it all the time and switch the plastic costumes on the figures until the shepherds are wearing crowns and the wise men have angel wings. So far no one has put a beard on Mary - at least they have that much respect. But I was pleased to at last have a traditional manger scene for my home.
Then the next day, ANOTHER stable appeared on the front step. Two! Of all the people in my neighborhood doing twelve days of Christmas by leaving nativity scenes one piece at a time, how was it that TWO picked my family? The children were delighted. Now they could set up one in each of their rooms. Well, that idea didn't last long because I said they'd have to clean up their desks first. Instead I put one in the dining room and one in the family room.
The snow came. I felt bad for the dear people who had committed to come to my house once a day for twelve days, right before Christmas. If they were doing several families, which I suspected they were, that was a 30 minute to 1 hour chunk of time a day! What if they got sick? What if their kids got earaches and they had to go to the doctor? These organized people must have their shopping already finished or something.
In the quiet, magical snowfall I heard a knock on the door. I opened it and saw a trail of small footprints dashing off through the snow, then looked down and saw the day's arrival at the manger scene. "There's footprints here if anyone wants to follow them!" I shouted, more for the benefit of our benefactors than for my children. "Merry Christmas!" I bellowed into the snow.
I watched all day long, checking the porch for the piece from the other scene. Sadly I thought that maybe they'd had to miss a day due to the bad weather. Then the next morning when I went to get the mail I laughed for surprise and joy to find a wise man sitting there on top of my junk mail and Christmas cards. Wise man? More like wise guy. I brought him in and placed him in the stable to wait for Baby Jesus.
So I guess I just want to say thank you for all the fun and excitement. We feel loved. I hope to do something like this for others in the future - though my suggestion that we give these manger scenes away to other families next year in the same manner met with loud howls of protest from the children. They love them and want to keep them forever as a reminder of our magic twelve days of Christmas.