Jesus and his Manger

By Val Hoppichler

It is the most beautiful time of the year, or at least this is how I feel. I remember when we were young my mom put up the Christmas tree and decorations on 8th December for the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary, and this was when the road to Christmas and New Year’s Eve started.

How far away those days look now. Today the world is on a high speed road where the shops sell Christmas decor from October and we set it up from November. I have to confess that, each year, I enjoy the two months road to Christmas more. I enjoy the darker nights lightened up by the multi-coloured Christmas lights, opening the decoration boxes and planning the new tree and table centrepieces, Advent, the Church’s Carols and Christingle, visiting shops just to see their colourful displays and hear seasonal music, the good spirit, good actions and cooperation from children and adults. I enjoy meeting with friends that you might not have seen the previous 11 months and cooking new Christmas recipes for my loved ones. But that is not all.

Going back to my early years in Argentina I remember a meaningful event. For us the most important family time was and still is Christmas Eve. Saint Nicholas comes at 12am on the 25th or as we say, the night of the 24th. However, it is never more important than the arrival of Jesus. My mom’s beautiful nativity set had something I cherished every Christmas. Jesus was not attached to his crib, so we placed him inside the dining room display cabinets during the time leading up to Christmas. How difficult is today, to find a nativity set where Jesus is not attached to the manger.

I have fond memories as if it were yesterday, that after dinner and the midnight toast with champagne or Prosecco and before opening the presents we had the most important duty to do. This duty was actually a “Joy and Honor”, plenty of love and respect. I would run to the display cabinet, take Jesus and, admiring the nativity set, place Jesus in this crib. The little Lord Jesus was waiting for us, the little Lord Jesus was calling us, Jesus is born. It is Christmas!