Light Notes

Humble manger tells of Christmas spirit

Buried under snow with the threat of more to come, my husband, Bill, and I decided to stay home this Christmas.

But it didn’t stop us from traveling down memory lane.

“Remember last year in Spokane when we went out to look at Christmas lights?” I said while Bill held the knot and I tied the last gift bow.

“Yeah, but the only house I remember is the one with the traffic jam,” he recalled, “the one with a zillion things all over their yard.”

We chuckled as we thought back on last year, and our then 3-year-old grandson Luke’s reaction to the spectacle.

It had been the evening of Christmas. Packages had been opened, dinner dishes put away, and now it was time for family to drive to one of the most spectacular sights in the city.

We’d all squeezed into the van, driven across town, and edged our way into the line of cars to view “the house.”

“We’re almost there,” our daughter, Tiffany, called from the front seat. “Get your cameras ready!”

At long last, we would be rewarded for our patience.

The spectacle came into view.

There were dancing elves and snowmen, lighted trees that flashed red, green and white, electrified carolers that sang Jingle Bells and a glowing candy cane lane that meandered through the display.

From the rooftop to the edge of the lawn, sparkle greeted the eye.

“Luke, look at the pretty house!” I called from the back of the van. “Isn’t it wonderful?”

What he said next had us all staring.

“Wow! They have a basketball hoop!” his little voice exclaimed.


Our eyes searched. Had the owners decorated their basketball hoop, too? But no, it wasn’t over the garage where you’d expect it to be.

And then one of us saw it. There, lying on its side, unlighted upon the front porch was a basketball rim and backboard.

Amazingly, in the midst of an extravaganza, the unremarkable item was what the child saw as special.

Remembering this incident has me wondering about the very first Christmas.

I can’t help but wonder if God chose to bring the exceptional gift of His Son into the world in a very nondescript setting for a reason. Today, the quiet of the manager scene stands out in contrast to the “whistles and bells” that surround this season of celebration.

Perhaps, what it takes for us to notice the Prince of Peace is a child’s heart