Many years ago I went to a Hallmark store on December 26 to buy Christmas wrapping paper for half price. I had an armful of paper as I stood in line at the cash register when I spotted these Nativity figures of Mary, Joseph and the Babe on sale half price. I scooped them up too.
For years they were unaccompanied by other traditional Nativity figures while I waited to find similar pieces. Then one year, on one of those Christmases when R.H. and I not only felt poor but were poor (there is a difference, you know), we began to search for shepherds and Wise Men at Goodwill stores. Soon we had a complete set, lacking a lowing cattle or two. Even the buildings were found at Goodwill.
The figures are a rather motley assortment. There is even an elephant and her baby. R.H. pointed out that there were no elephants at the birth of Jesus, but I could not resist them. I believe God smiles when he sees the elephants.
I know that many of you love Jan Karon's Mitford series as much as I do. I'm quoting from some of her Shepherds Abiding here to remind me of Father Tim's surprise Christmas gift to his wife Cynthia when he spent many hours working to restore a box full of old worn Nativity figures.
"Father Tim peered at a motley assortment of sheep spilling from a box, an angel with a mere stub for a wing, an orange camel, and, lying in a manger of bubble wrap, a lorn Babe."
"Andrew thumbed the pages. 'Giovanni Batista Salvi's Madonna and Child with Angels. Again a gown of scarlet, with an overmantel of blue. Exquisite."
"Mule's eyes were wide. 'An' look at th' sheep an' that donkey. I always liked a donkey.'"
"Paint, paint, and more paint--he had labored over that camel to beat the band, and so had Fred, and still it was a camel he wouldn't personally want to ride across the desert."
"In what Biblical scholars generally conceded was a two-year journey to the Child, one fellow had lost a nose, another was missing part of his crown, and all were painted something akin to a mottled, industrial teal."
"He took her by the hand and led her to the door of the living room. Though he'd personally set out each of the figures and arranged them near the manger at the base of their [Christmas] tree, he saw it all with new and wondering eyes…He had done it all in order to see her face, and instantly she made it all worthwhile. 'Timothy,' she whispered. 'Oh!' He put his arm around her waist and drew her to him. 'Merry Christmas,' he said, shy and solemn."
Have you read Jan Karon's Mitford Series? Even if you haven't, her Shepherds Abiding stands alone quite nicely as a delightful Christmas book full of the quirky characters that make up Mitford, North Carolina.
Our Nativity scene stands below the twig tree R.H. and I showed you on our one-year blog anniversary [here]. We simply removed all the pumpkins and added some tiny gold balls and square gold wreaths for a more Christmasy look.
And we spread down a silky piece of fabric that I bought for R.H.'s costume when he went as Pharaoh to a Bible character contest at church 30 years ago. He wore it as a sarong around his hips, bare chested except for a pharaoh-like gold necklace. He swaggered in as smugly as Yul Brynner in The Ten Commandments. In one hand R.H. held a basket with our baby, Defee, in it--baby Moses himself. R.H. says he won first prize. I think it was probably second or third but let's not quibble.
We are having a wonderful time at the Tis the Season Blog Tour! Catch up with all of them if you haven't yet visited, please. R.H. and I are busy getting ready for Saturday when Across the Way will be on. We only have one more set of pictures to take to show you how we "Set the Stage." And I have the last tree to decorate, the kitchen to clean, the fourth table to set, pine branches to cut and spray with snow….
I am going to be so ready for this soon--
Meanwhile, here is a quick peek at one of my four Christmas tables:
See you soon! Once again, here are the links to my fellow tour-mates!
Monday December 9, 2013
Chris of The Cafe Sucre Farina
Jemma of At Home with Jemma
Tuesday December 10, 2013
Poppy of Poppy View
Wednesday December 11, 2013
Sheri, Jess, and Nel of Red Rose Alley
Patty of Home and Lifestyle Design
Thursday December 12, 2013
Melanie of Comfy House
Brenda of Cozy Little House
Friday December 13, 2013
Melinda of The Refeathered Roost
Saturday December 14, 2013
Kathryn of The Dedicated House
Dewena (me!) of Across the Way