When I think about my childhood at Christmas time, many of my memories started out with just plain old everyday cardboard. But in that magic time of year, ordinary cardboard could be transformed into almost anything.
While Christmas dinner was prepared in the kitchen, all the cousins kept busy with crayons, glitter, and glue to create a beautiful cardboard angel, a perfect centerpiece for the family table. Then we took small pieces of cardboard, folded them in half, and in our best penmanship wrote each guest's name. With an added Christmas sticker or two, those plain scraps of cardboard became elegant personal place cards above each sparkling plate set around our cardboard angel.
Grinning cardboard Santas were taped on the outside doors and cutout cardboard bells hung above each doorway, silently ringing in the season. Homemade cardboard ornaments, each with their own special memory, were lovingly hung on the Christmas tree year after year.
Underneath the tree lay cardboard boxes of every size and shape, wrapped in festive paper, ribbons and bows, waiting to be opened. The cardboard fireplace burned bright with its flaming logs and painted red bricks. On the cardboard mantle sat a whole cardboard Christmas Village, each little town building placed side by side over the cotton-snow. A tin foil ice rink held miniature cardboard skaters and a cardboard sleigh hung suspended between the housetops, paper reindeer hooves resting on cardboard chimneys.
My favorite decoration was the little cardboard Advent Church that Daddy assembled every December 1st. The steeple held 25 small cardboard gifts and every morning during the month, my brother, David and I would take turns opening one of the cardboard packages and setting it up in front of the church. Each gift held a piece of the scene; the shepherds, the animals, the wise men and the Holy family. Number 25 was opened on Christmas morning to complete the Christmas Nativity. The baby Jesus in the manger was always in that last cardboard gift.
When Dennis and I got married, I had to have my own cardboard fireplace. Mom gave me the cardboard Christmas Village and the little Advent Church. Stacie enjoyed the village for a few years until it finally had too many rips to repair and I had to give it up. The church didn't last either. I still remember the tearful day I threw them away, trading cardboard traditions for a memories. I still have a few of the gift boxes from the church. I keep them in a Christmas tin to remind me of those precious childhood memories and how an ordinary cardboard box held the reason we celebrate Christmas.
God can still use plain old “cardboard” in our lives. If we trust Him with it, He will transform the ordinary into His greatest gifts. Over 2000 years ago, God used the ordinary of this world to bring us a Savior. Jesus is His greatest gift of all. The account is recorded in Luke, chapter two. I hope you have a BLESSED CHRISTMAS this year, gathering with your family for traditions and to make memories. Don't forget to pause and read the real Christmas Story.
J.A. McPhail is the author of five books, has been married to Dennis for 43 years, enjoys living near the North Carolina mountains. and is an avid collector of books and book related stuff.