Friday, December 3, 2010

a night at the jesus museum

The year my little brother Peter was four (or possibly five) he went to my mother late one fall and asked as earnestly as only a four-year-old can, "When can we put up the Jesus museum?"

My mother was, understandably, somewhat perplexed.  And my brother frustrated that she couldn't seem to fathom what he was asking about.  Eventually they sorted it out... he wanted to put out the nativity scene.

Growing up the Christmas season was marked by countless little rituals.  One of my favourite was that starting December 1 (and not a moment sooner) we were allowed to put up one decoration per day until the Christmas tree went in the weekend before Christmas.  Our nativity scene was usually one of the first boxes to be brought down from the attic.  We got it the year I turned five.  I'm not sure but I think it was purchased at the Grand Isle Drugstore (which was the kind of place where you could pick up your prescription, a pair of rubber boots and a new Bible.)  I know that cousins Richelle and Michael had a similar one although I think the wise men wore different colour robes...

Anyway, putitng up the Nativity scene was one of my favourite rituals.  I was meticulous about the placement of the figures, i.e. it had to look exactly like the photo on the box.  

After his Jesus museum remark, Pete naturally took over the duties for arranging our nativity scene (and others: my grandmother Betty wouldn't put out her nativity scene - with real ceramic figures and moss on the stable roof - unless Peter was there to help).  But he was just as particular as I was about how the scene should look.

Year in and year out it sat in the same place - on the shelf over our stockings, the wise men lined up with their gifts, the shepherd in the doorway and the cow and the donkey just so. Flipping through old Christmas photos, you'd see Pete and I grow taller, hairstyles would change, gifts would change but that little nativity scene was always the same.  A reminder of the reason for the season in the middle of all the Christmas chaos.

Pete has his own home now and Mom and Dad have moved as well.  But they still put out the nativity scene.

Dad sent me a photo to prove it today.  I had to email him back:

"You realize, of course, the shepherd is in the wrong place."

1 comment:

Pete said...

That's hilarious. It's been years since I set it up, but I'm sure I'd remember the formula.

I burst out at the Grand Isle bit!