12-17-2020 Letters & Commentary

RITE OF NATIVITY… Last week, on Facebook, I read a comment from my daughter Amy Bayer Loshbough… “Growing up my grandparents and my parents always had a nativity set, really similar to this one I just purchased. As kids we always played with the nativity and I wanted to create that same memory with my grandsons.

“Yesterday while having Oreos & milk, I shared the Christmas story with William and Jax while letting them touch and look at the nativity. I had their full attention as long as they didn’t run out of Oreos. Ha Ha! “Later William told me those were my action figures, and this is how I found baby Jesus! [Amy included a photo]

“Mission accomplished!! Planting the seed is so important, my parents and grandparents did that for me!”

My childhood Christmas memories are so full and fun, from school to church to home (as my annual Christmas Kolumn will attest). Many are of the nativity, the story of the birth of Christ Jesus. The tableau of the story is with Jesus, Mary and Joseph the centerpieces. Shepherds, farm animals, angels fill the rest of the spots.

But that was not the rest of the story, three kings searching for a predicted astronomical event, a new star, found it in the skies overhead. They were drawn to Bethlehem and arrived a couple weeks later.

The nativity, that scene of the birth of Jesus stayed on the mantel over the fireplace, “waiting for the 3 kings to arrive,” mom would say to January 6, the Epiphany, their arrival. And the naming of Jesus.

I couldn’t have been the only kid in the house eying the plaster of Paris figurines mysteriously appearing in early December. They were the centerpiece, pushing back all the school pictures, awards and such. That was no LEGO simple process; the mantle was probably eight foot long, as were the bookcases flanking it. That’s 24 feet of a living, growing pictorial history!

So was the nativity… figurines got moved periodically. Everyone knew the cow, heavy with milk, was missing its rear left leg. I had nothing to do with that. I can’t remember it ever having four legs.

The cow would move from left to right, as would the shepherd boy and a sheep or two. Mary and Joseph were also fair game to relocate. But never very far from the crib of Baby Jesus which was “hands off”.

Here comes the link from the nativity I knew (& played with) to the one my daughter was recently introducing to her grandkids.

The nativity Anne and I shared with our kids was the centerpiece of our Christmas decorations and celebrations. The figurines have survived 50 years so far, but not without some wear and injury. Baby Jesus is missing both arms!

I doubt the disfigurement occurred at the same time, or at the same hands of Justin, Amy, or Gillian. Worse yet, Baby Jesus would sometimes disappear. Long enough for a search to be organized, but easier enough to show up in a dollhouse, tea party, or GI Joe ambulance.

Baby Jesus has never been moved out of his manger since the onset of Crazy Glue. Sometime in the 70s I glued him to his cradle.

As our grandkids arrived, most had a shot at the now bedraggled, well-traveled nativity but there was never the same interest of their parents. It did seem a rite of passage as the young ones introduced the nativity with “Grandpa glued Baby Jesus to his cradle”.

This year Amy helped us decorate, and she placed our nativity on a shelf only reached with a 10-foot ladder.

At her house I wonder how she’ll handle her grandsons taking Baby Jesus for a ride in their LEGO cars.