A few years ago, a very talented friend of mine spent untold hours building a wonderfully intricate Christmas model out of salt dough. The centerpiece was the stable, but the scene stretched well beyond that, deep into Bethlehem and the surrounding countryside.

The buildings were painted, the streets were strewn with very fine gravel, there was moss in the gardens and on the hills, and the village was alive with mansions, hovels, shops, inns, and a multitude of people (and stray cats) milling about.

There is no way I could build something remotely as impressive! To be honest, it’s a stretch for me to successfully fold a reasonably aerodynamic paper airplane. This friend’s genius was matched by his altruism, as early in the next year, he gave away the entire set.

I was fascinated by how the scene gave a view not just of what was happening in the stable but also what might have been going on in the rest of town that night. It brought to life how, apart from the shepherds who saw and heard a choir of angels singing and praising God, most people were likely going about their business without a clue.

In some respects, that’s how things still are. It’s easy to find ourselves going through Christmas without experiencing it to the full. Even while enjoying the holiday spirit and festivities, it’s possible to let the deeper meaning of the season pass us by.

Unbeknownst to most of Bethlehem’s inhabitants on the night of the first Christmas, something marvelous was happening in their midst, and something wonderful can happen this season in each of our lives as well if we open our hearts to it. It may not be something flashy or huge, and if we’re not careful we might miss it, but I believe that Christmas is a magical time, and I’m looking forward to what it has in store. I hope you are too.