It isn’t 2011 years old, but the little replica is getting up there in years.
Our family crèche was bought in December 1959, just before I was born.
Every year that it is lifted from its tattered box, as it was yesterday, our nativity scene shows more wear. The stable has become unstable. A couple of figures have lost their hands, one of which remains attached to the end of a camel’s rein. Two animals are each missing an ear.
One shepherd has lost the bundle of twigs he once carried on his shoulder. I know where it is—behind a heavy buffet in our dining room. If we ever move, I must remember to retrieve it. In the meantime, it’s been replaced with a shred of mulch from the yard.
The roof is in terrible disrepair, resulting from angel-induced erosion. For the first 35 or so years of use, we affixed the angel—which has a hooked wire in its back—to the roof by poking the wire into the thatching.
One year, our young son asked why we attached the angel that way: “Why don’t we just hang it on the hook?” He pointed to a tiny loop in the ceiling, which none of us had ever noticed. Sure enough, that’s where the angel was meant to hang.
A few things have also been added.
In the 1970s, a plastic cow from my brother’s toy farm set joined the cast. In the 1980s, my husband added a plastic California Raisin to the trio of processing Magi—to proclaim that he had “heard it through the grapevine.” The raisin has since disappeared mysteriously.
Between this nativity scene and my frail and dusty birthday Washington Post, the 1950s-era relics are looking pretty badly aged. (Dare I look in the mirror?) Watch this space for more citings.
Speaking of things acquired in December, 23 years ago today, at 8:49 a.m., we welcomed one blessing of a boy into our little house. Happy Birthday, kiddo. (And thanks for locating that hook; you’re an angel.)
And to the rest of you, Happy St. Nicholas Day. Read what St. Nicholas’Day means to me, from the ‘Nymph one year ago.