Spool NativityGifts come in many forms this time of year. The usual and expected. The random and ridiculous. But one of my favorites recently appeared on Facebook. Posted by a sweet daughter-of-my-heart, it was a photo of the beloved nativity set from her childhood that her mother had recently given her. She explained that it was created when her mom and favorite friend were newlyweds. The scarps of fabric that dressed the wooden spool crèche characters were from memorable sewing projects – the angel’s “wings” – tulle from a wedding veil, etc. What a gift of memories flooded into my mind.

The nativity posted on Facebook was the one I’d created in the early 70’s for what would be called nowadays my BFF. And while not exactly newlyweds, Norrene and I were thick as thieves playing house and caring for our families. Indeed, the nativity set I gave her as a gift included tulle from my wedding veil. One of the wise men was robed in scraps of green wool with a green and orange floral silk turban from a suit I’d made for Easter when I was in high school. The suit I wore at my bridal shower complete with heel, hose and gloves. We dressed differently in those days! Another wise man wore scraps of orange crepe de chine from an empire dress and coat I made in the late 60’s. And on it went. Every memory a gift of some long ago sewing project that hallmarked important events and special occasions. Not to mention the nostalgia of all the colorful wooden spools of thread that are no longer available.

The nativity set pictured above appeared under my Christmas tree the following year. Norrene, in cahoots with my husband, sorted through my fabric stash to create a thread spool nativity for me. Among the bits used were leftovers from the floor-length A-line skirts and full-length hostess dresses that were all the range in the early 70’s, at least in our close-knit group of friends. All three of my wise men are garbed in fabrics from outfits sewn for my mom before she passed away, or for another friend whose husband asked me to sew several garments as Christmas gifts.

This year I needed to take the glue gun to the matchstick cradle; the cotton ball sheep look a little dopier year by year. But the gift of memories…of people, places, and parties…is as fresh as ever. Thanks to Norrene who passed the gift on, to Nadean who posted her delight in it, and to all who expressed their warm responses to the details shared about this gift. A gift that just keeps on giving.

The baby Jesus is a small plastic baby about the size of the end of your little finger. From time to time, it’s gone missing, but usually resurfaces among other Christmas decoration after a semi-frantic search. Fortunately, the real Jesus can be easily found amid all the holiday trappings and traditions…especially if you’ve invited Him into your heart.

If you’ve received the gift of memories, what were they?

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