Due to my inability to juggle a lot of things a once, we’ve remained an “Elf on the Shelf” free home. I think this is the best way to protect my children from undue elf drama! And there would be elf drama. I can’t tell you how many times the “tooth fairy” forgot to exchange money for my children’s teeth! Dang, Tooth Fairy.
But I think the Moore residence still has a bit of elf magic. See, our nativity is always changing, rearranging, while no one is looking! I call this phenomena, “the work of a Nativity Elf.”
My hope is to help you welcome your very own “Nativity Elves” to the story, but first let me share some of the story magic I’ve experienced personally at the hands of my own elves.
Somedays, our elves gather the host of witnesses around baby Jesus.
My 2nd grader calls this “the real nativity.”
Side Note – I love that Larry the Wiseman Cucumber made an appearance. Our very first nativity set was Veggie Tales, and I still have fond memories of hearing the baby carrot angel sing from the next room while the boys played.
The elves have also left our nativity with the whole host of witnesses facing out, almost like they’re standing guard.
And I love finding things like a wiseman peaking in through the window, a camel watching from behind the lamp, all eyes on Jesus.
But lately these elves have been responsible for some pretty serious “Baby Jesus” drama, too. As I documented evidence of our nativity elves for this post, I was surprised to find Baby Jesus hidden behind a curtain on the floor.
The host of witnesses was scattered everywhere like they had all died very upsetting deaths…
So as each of my kiddos came through the room, I calmly asked if they knew why the nativity was all over the floor. It was my 2nd grader who confessed, “I did that.” Now in the Jacob’s Well Kid’s Community, we’re trained in the art of asking questions while kids play. And the answers we get from kids are always the best part of the job!!! So I was armed and ready to interview the “nativity elf” behind this disturbing scene.
” Why don’t you tell me how they ended up like this? What happened?”
“There was a war over Baby Jesus.”
“A war!? Why is everyone knocked over like they got hurt?” My eyebrows are totally furrowed at this point.
“They died, mom. You can’t have a war where no one’s dies.”
Ouch! Does he understand that already!? “Did Jesus die?” My heart clenches in anticipation of his answer.
“Yeah, they couldn’t save him.” And at this his face and tone fall a bit.
“Oh, wow…… What do you think the world would be like if Jesus never grew up?”
“I don’t know….. We wouldn’t have Christmas.”
“Or Santa. Or churches.”
“Yeah.” You can see the wheels turning in his head.
“Did you know that someone tried to kill Baby Jesus? King Herod didn’t want him to live. Tried to kill him. Really awful, huh? Do you know how they escaped?”
“Is that when they went to the temple?”
“No, but they went to Egypt. Where God’s people had been slaves? Remember God rescued them from Pharaoh there? Wonder if they were scared to go back there?”
And I realize at that moment, I had begun wondering with him. The way my son had animated his story, as disturbing as it was, had me thinking in new ways. Asking new questions.
And I’ve continued to think about my son’s story all week. As a baby, Jesus really was vulnerable to all his foes. But then I remember that he was just as vulnerable at his death, too. And I wonder what this means for me? Because this is the King I follow. And he’s vulnerable.
I think about this little conversation between the two of us, and I know that there is magic hidden in those wooden figurines. Advent magic. The kind that brings this old story racing back to us with new truths.
How to Welcome Your Own Elves
So here’s how I encourage all that Advent magic, and how I welcome those little Nativity Elves.
I intentionally placed our nativity in the front “formal” living room. Not because the set is pretty and needs to be on display, but because this is where we gather.
It’s where we go to read and play a board game together. There are no screens. Just books. And it’s a wrestle free room. A no running, screaming, tagging, farting, rolling room.🙂 It’s been called “mom’s room.” This room begs it’s occupants to slow down and engage with one another and with their own thoughts. This is where the magic begins. A thinking place.
Your nativity set should beg to be touched and played with, too. Check out some of my ideas from yesterday. Our old thrift store nativity set faithfully served our Nativity Elves for years with it’s donkey ears missing and a wiseman who fell over constantly (he generated all kinds of funny stories). But they loved it.
Then last year, I fell in love with a beautiful wooden set I found at Hobby Lobby. Wonderful carvings covered each figurine. They were colorful and fun. Biding my time, I waited for the set to go on sale and then scooped it up on my small budget. I haven’t regretted the investment at all! Here’s why…
At home and in my classroom, I offer kids special objects like these a lot. I believe presenting kids with something different, something special alerts them to the importances of what’s being offered. Kids intrinsically respond with more focus, more awe, more enthusiasm. They get it. This different! This is special! And they’re drawn in. Even an old thrift store set or set you make together can offer this sense of special.
But the last bit of magic comes when you step in, play with your elves, listen, ask them questions. You might even find a little Advent magic for yourself when you do.
So my prayer for you is this… May this story come racing back to you in new ways as you discover it through the eyes of your very own Nativity Elves this Advent.