The Christmas Dishes
Years ago when my kids were small, Christmas dishes were something of a luxury. They were pretty and would surely be fun to have, but our money certainly had more important places to go than on fancy Christmas dishes. That didn’t stop me from dreaming, however. I can still remember riding the escalator to the top floor of one of my favorite department stores and longingly admiring all the pretty Christmas dishes. There were so many colors and designs – Christmas trees, snowflakes, winter birds. I would have been absolutely tickled to have had any of them, but there was one set that stood out from all the rest.
This particular set of dishes featured a beautiful snow-covered village scene painted on each plate, bowl, and cup. In addition to the village itself, the scene included horse-drawn sleighs, Christmas trees, kids playing in the snow, and a beautiful house with lights in the windows. What a beautiful Christmas scene, I thought as I carefully fingered the fragile plates and cups. Maybe, one day!
Just a couple of weeks later I was preparing dinner while the kids and I waited for their Daddy/my husband to get home from work. He was running a little later than usual and I was relieved to finally hear the familiar sound of his truck pulling into the driveway. The kids scampered to the door, eager to welcome Daddy home, when one of them exclaimed: “He’s got something.”
“What is it?” I asked as I continued to work on supper.
“It’s a BIG box!” I was simply told.
As their Daddy heaved the box through the door, he was met with a chorus of questions from three inquisitive little minds. “What is it? Is it a surprise? Is it something for Christmas?”
I smiled as I listened, but wondered myself, until I heard him answer: “It’s a surprise for your Mama!”
I couldn’t believe my eyes as he opened the giant box, reached in, and proudly produced a lovely Christmas dish – the very one I had been admiring with the beautiful snow-covered village scene. I kept repeating, “Oh, you shouldn’t have!” as I eagerly unpacked the box and examined each plate, cup, and bowl. I knew that he shouldn’t have. The money he spent surely had other places it needed to go. But, I was so glad that he had!
Through the years as we’ve used those Christmas dishes, I’ve often wondered what it was about the simple winter scene that captivated me so. I’ve come to the conclusion that in many ways, it captures the essence of Christmas. No, there was not any snow in Bethlehem on that first Christmas when Jesus was born. There were no Christmas trees with colorful lights or sleigh bells jingling in the air. But on that very first Christmas, ….
- There was light in the midst of darkness – “Behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid” (Luke 2:9b).
- There was joy – “Then the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people” (Luke 2:10).
- There was a gift – “For there is born to you this day in the city of David, a Savior, who is Christ the Lord’” (Luke 2:11).
- There was praise to the Giver and a promise to those who would receive the Gift – “And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!’” (Luke 2:13-14)
Jesus was born so that we might live. Jesus, Himself, later stated: “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly” (John 10:10b). Jesus came on that very first Christmas to give us life – abundant life. To me, the simple, uncomplicated scene on my Christmas dishes captures the beauty and wonder of that life which Jesus came to give to all who would receive Him – a life of peace and goodwill.
Every year as I pull out my Christmas dishes and unpack them for the season, I remember that special gift all those years ago. The pieces are beginning to show the effects of years of use – scratches, chips, and we’ve lost a few pieces along the way. I admit I’ve looked at and admired new Christmas dishes in the department stores, but I’m just not ready to part with what’s left of my old Christmas dishes with the beautiful snow-covered village scene. Maybe it’s because of my husband and his sweet, thoughtful gift. Perhaps it’s because of the many Christmases our family has enjoyed around those plates. And still maybe, it’s because of that beautiful, peaceful scene that reminds me of God’s great gift at Christmas, Jesus, and the abundant life He came to give!