This nativity set started out as a source of irritation. My husband made it for me. That's not as nice as it sounds. I never had a manger scene as a child, and always wanted one. So the first year of my marriage, I asked for a set for Christmas. I didn't get one.
Ditto, the third year, and the fourth, and the fifth.
The fifth year, we had our first child, and I wanted my children to have nice memories of looking at the baby Jesus. Christmas isn't just about Santa, you know.
So that year, I really nagged my husband. I gave the man no peace. So to shut me up, he went down the basement, where he was working on a project and found the ends of two studs. They were of equal length. He looked around for particle board but couldn't find two that matched. So what? He just nailed it all together. That's it. No measuring; no cutting; no painting; just here, now "shut up."
I did. It wasn't what I pictured, but it was better than nothing. I also found some really cheap figures made out of plastic resin--but they looked like wood. Sometimes I'd find matching figures at yard sales, rummage sales, or thrift stores. Eventually, the set ended up looking like it does now, in the picture.
Yet every year, when I took out the nativity set, it would be a source of irritation, because I'd remember that my husband literally just slapped it together. But because it wasn't fancy, or expensive, I let the kids play with it. They'd put little people in it, and cars, and other farm animals.
One day I had a revelation. This creche is a blessing. The children love it and will remember this always. If the creche were an expensive ceramic set, children would never be allowed to play with it.
And when you think about it, where would Jesus prefer to be laid--expensive creche, or a humble manger?