Monday, December 10, 2012

Manger Scene

Lest you may have interpreted my last blog to think that I hate Christmas, let me set you straight. It's not about tacky lawn ornaments or Christmas Specials in the stores. It's about friends, families, traditions, Baby Jesus, and memories. All of these are wrapped up in our ratty old manger scene.

It is made of paper mache, intended to look like Italian Renaissance porcelain. It was passed around in the family for years before we gave it a home. It had seen better days. The figures were ten to twelve inches tall if intact, but they weren't. None of the sheep had four legs, the camel's neck was broken, the cow had no horns, the shepherd had no crook. We made replacement parts out of plastic clay and painted them. The shepherd was happy to have a swizzle stick as a crook. Every year we had more patching to do.

Worst of all was the after-market Baby Jesus, who was way too big for his red plastic strawberry basket manger filled with pink Easter grass. He sort  of lay in there at an angle, and looked like a five-year old Eddie Haskell. One year I found a perfect replacement, the right size, in a believable manger, and he actually looked like a baby. However, you can't just toss the original in the trash, so we have always had two. Jason called them the Babies Jesi.

The original group took up about three feet on the buffet, arranged on a sheet of white cotton batting. We stuck books under it in the back that could have been sand dunes. The kids began adding characters from their toy box, so the display grew every year. Horses and cows seemed to belong, but there were no rules. A tiny train set, Happy Meal characters such as the Little Mermaid showed up. Santa Claus.
Little green army men. Lions, tigers, even a gorilla were welcome. The display got so large that there is no room in our down-sized house. We are hoping one of our kids or grandkids will give it a home.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Christmas Confusion

Maybe it's just me, but I don't understand much of this Christmas stuff. God knows, I try. I religiously watch the Macy's parade and hope to get infused with the Christmas Spirit, whatever that is. I watch Spongebob Squarepants and Spiderman balloons and wonder what they're doing up there. Maybe a Baby Jesus balloon wouldn't be quite right, either, though.

I go shopping, to see if that will help with the blahs. The decorations and gifts that have been there since Labor Day are looking a little dusty, and are already marked down. The gift guides in every magazine and paper try to convince me to send my loved ones socks or TV's. What do they have to do with Christmas?

Lawn decorations are a mystery. One neighbor had life-sized animated people, animals, and elves climbing all around inside their garage, to make it look like an old-fashioned department store window. There were so many cars and buses lined up that we were prisoners in our house. This year is all about wire deer, dolphins, locomotives and even a helicopter, lighted to look like they're moving. One neighbor has wired his lawn so that it changes patterns in time with Mannheim Steamroller on the speakers. The most recent addition to the scene is the life-sized bronze rhinoceros, all decked out in a leafy wreath collar. I guess a rhino is just as appropriate as Spiderman.

Once again, my family will receive virtual pigs and goats from Heifer, with the actual beasties going to third world families. I know, pigs and goats don't exactly scream "Merry Christmas" either. So I will be sending cookies and candy, which is what Baby Jesus would have wanted