Has America forgotten the origin of Christmas?

   Sent by Jean Diehl, Wheaton, Illinois

Ok, it's Christmas, right?

Christmas is the time we celebrate the birth of Christ. He was born in Bethlehem in a stable. His parents, Mary and Joseph laid him in a manger. He is the son of God. The birth of this child means something to all humanity.

So why I am so confused by my experiences of the past week?

I teach 1st graders in Sunday School. The past couple of years I have given each child a small nativity set for a Christmas present. The kids like having their own nativity set. Parents have told me how much their children have enjoyed setting it up and telling the Christmas story. So, I want to keep giving these as gifts.

In the past I found inexpensive sets in discount or craft stores. Not this year.  I have been to several stores and have had no luck. There are plenty of snowmen, santas, reindeer, etc.

The response, "A what?"

I repeat my request.

A confused clerk looks puzzled: ' I don't know what that is, ma'am.'

I explain: ' It's a little stable with Mary, Joseph and the baby Jesus.'

The clerk hollers to someone else: 'Do we have -- what did you call it, ma'am?'

I say for the third time: 'A Nativity set.'

The response comes from across the store: 'No.'

This similar experience happened at three different stores.

What I have trouble understanding is how do adults who were raised in this country not know what a nativity set is? If they were educated in America, wouldn't they know who Jesus is and that he was born of the Virgin Mary after she and Joseph took a long donkey ride to Bethlehem?'

There was no room in the inn and his birth took place in a stable where he was laid in a manger. What's happening to us? Are we so preoccupied with keeping religion out of the public schools that we skip a major event in history?

I must admit I am worried about this lack of awareness of the origin of Christmas. We have no problem celebrating this day with all kinds of material goods. We talk about love, peace and joy. We sing carols about the Christ child, but do we know the whole story?

This experience has convinced me all the more that we need prayer for our country.

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