Everything I Know About Setting Up a Nativity I Learned From a Child

Last week, I was asked to bring a nativity to display at the Relief Society dinner.  I chose the unique one that my daughter-in-law, Leigh, chose for me last year (her wonderful parents provided the funding).  On the grounds of the church office building in Salt Lake City, large nativities from different countries are displayed during December.  Last year, Leigh saw this small replica of the Japanese nativity and knew she had to get it for me.

When I arrived at the dinner I asked where I should set it up.  I was directed to the end of the serving table and proceeded to arrange each figure in the same way I always do.  Notice how I place all the figures facing outward so everyone can see their faces and the details of their beautifully painted clothing.


When I was finished I crossed the room and to visit with some friends.  Out of the corner of my eye, I watched as our Relief Society president’s son, Jacob, approached the end of the table.  He looked at my arrangement for only a second before he got busy re-arranging it.  My first thought was, “Why is he touching my nativity?”  I became intrigued and then grateful as I watched him work.  This is how it looked when he finished.  Notice how he placed each figure, including the animals, facing the baby Jesus.  They were in a tight little circle, close around the newborn King.  I was humbled.  Of course, each figure should be facing the baby Jesus!  How silly I had been to think that everyone should admire the beauty of my nativity.  How wise Jacob is.  His focus is on the Savior and His importance in our lives.


I am grateful for Jacob and the lesson he taught me about setting up a nativity, but more importantly for reminding me of where my focus should be everyday and not just during the Christmas season.


  1. dee

    I loved that you were patient and watched what happened. It’s amazing what we can learn from children!
    Merry Christmas!!

  2. pohpeng

    Hi….found your blog site from Laurie’s blog – it is wonderful to read all your adventures in asia! Love your japanese nativity set! Merry Christmas to you and brother Carruth…..all is well in singapore..

  3. marisa

    What a great story, I have tears in my eyes.

  4. Kristina

    Oh man…that is precious, I am teary eyed…I need kids to teach me! Doesn’t Heavenly Father realize that I would HAVE to be a better person if I had kids of my own?!?! I know, I know, He will provide in His appointed time. I love you!!!!! I am so excited to see you!!!!!!!

  5. Megan Lips

    Levi has been moving my nativities around the same way…drives me crazy, but you’re right, the focus should be on the Savior, not on the beauty of the figurines themselves. Thank you for the reminder!

  6. Kim T

    I am going to rearrange my nativities right now. What a great lesson from a huge spirit in a little body

  7. Lara

    I love it! We have a very similar thing going on at our house lately. It is so neat to see how much we can learn from these little ones. It is truly a humbling experience, if we just take the time to listen. Hope you both have a wonderful holiday and enjoy having some of them to visit! We sure do miss you and think of you often! love ya!

  8. Kaylene Murray

    What a wonderful story and insite! I love that nativity. This brings back memories of the Kingwood Nativiy Exhibit.

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