I bought the nativity set on a whim.
For the past couple of years I’ve had my eye out for the perfect crèche . I wanted one was aesthetically pleasing, but it also needed to be sturdy so that Hadden could play with it. I couldn’t imagine adding that special scene to our house and then telling our three-year-old that he couldn’t touch it. It didn’t seem like it should be difficult to find a good nativity set, but, strangely, it was.
When I started the search again last month, Caleb mentioned one he’d seen online. It was a nativity set combined with advent activities. The pieces were wooden and simple, but beautifully painted. Since we wanted to incorporate Advent into our family, this seemed like a good fit.
“Sure! Let’s give this a try!”
A week later when it arrived, Hadden helped me open the box. We pulled each piece out of the packaging and I told him a little about each character. “Here’s Baby Jesus. See, he’s sleeping in the animals’ food bin. It’s called a manger. And this is Mary, the baby’s mama.” Soon we had the whole set out.
Hadden played with the pieces. I watch absentmindedly.
As I watched, a realization hit me. I scanned the pieces to confirm what I already feared.
In my rush to buy a nativity set, I hadn’t noticed that the characters in this set were all, well, white.
They were white-white. Far whiter than my olive-tinted Italian skin.
Hadden continued to play while I started to stew. Why hadn’t I noticed this before I purchased it? Why had I been in such a hurry that I didn’t take the time to actually look at the pieces? Why did the company make all the characters white to begin with?
These are formative years in my son’s life and in his faith. The first image Hadden sees of Jesus is important. So if this is the nativity scene we use, my son will grow up thinking that Jesus, his earthly parents, and all those around the manger were white. In reality, Jesus’ family less like the Anglo-Saxons depicted in this nativity set and more like the refugees we’ve been seeing in the news.
I want my child to grow up with an accurate picture of Christ and with a global picture of the church, neither which are represented in this manger scene.
When Hadden was finished playing with the nativity set that day, I slowly packaged it back up. I put it on a shelf in the closet. And that’s where I plan to keep it.