In today’s Christmas remembrance, Cincinnati native Steve Carr shares about a family Christmas tradition.
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By Steve Carr
I’ve lived my entire life in Cincinnati, Ohio. All my Christmas memories are framed by the city where I both spent my childhood and where my wife and I raised our daughter.
I’ve enjoyed nearly every regional Christmas experience you can have in this city over the years. I attended performances of Cincinnati Ballet’s Nutcracker at Music Hall. I visited the massive toy train exhibit (formerly at Cincinnati Gas & Electric headquarters but now located at the Museum Center). I viewed the millions of Christmas lights at Cincinnati Zoo’s annual “Festival of Lights.”
But for me, nothing says Christmas in Cincinnati like the live Nativity display at Krohn Conservatory in Eden Park.
A local insurance company created the live Nativity display in 1939, constructing a barn where a real-life cow, donkey, and numerous sheep dwell, framed with life-sized wax figures of biblical characters. It’s a little surprising that, despite the changing cultural climate, the Nativity display has withstood secular lawsuits. The tradition continues as the stable is set up annually in the midst of a public park.
The story of the birth of Jesus was central to our family’s celebration, and Christmas always included a journey to Bethlehem (via Cincinnati). When I was a child, our family always took an evening during the holiday season to visit the display.
In 2005, my wife and I started a church in the city just a mile from that park. A few months later, our daughter was born. Every year since, our family makes a visit to the Nativity display—it’s an essential part of our Christmas season.
When our daughter was 2, I took a video of our trip to the Nativity; it was the first year she was able to comprehend what she was seeing. The wide-eyed little girl was enamored by the animals and plastic figures of shepherds and wise men. To get a sense of how much she comprehended, we peppered her with questions.
“Who is that there?” I asked.
“It’s baby Jesus!” she proclaimed.
Then my wife followed up with, “Why is Jesus sleeping in hay?”
Our daughter responded, “Because there was no crib for a bed!”
Now a teenager, my daughter isn’t quite as impressed with the experience as she once was. She still enjoys going but it’s just not the same as when she was younger. In latter years, I tried to make her laugh, mimicking the sheep to see if they’d bleat back at the middle-aged man impersonating them.
While that loss of wonderment should make me sad, it doesn’t. Instead, I’m encouraged that, now a young woman, the lessons of the Nativity took root in my daughter’s heart. The fruit of the Spirit is evident in her life as she follows the way of the newborn King.
The Christmas memories I most cherish transcend the season itself. I’m thankful for my city, for my family, and for the Savior that binds them all together.
Steve Carr serves as vice president of ministry development at CDF Capital. His website is www.houseofcarr.com.