Sunday, December 26, 2010

Laughter like a bowlful of jelly

Among my most favorite Christmas decorations are the myriad nativity sets we have acquired over the years. They are wooden, cross stitched, etched in gourds, formed from resin and ceramic and cloth. They hang as ornaments on small trees, adorn our stockings and tree skirt, and congregate in every room on the main level. Naturally, the kids are drawn to them; watching the kids with the nativities provided great amusement; initially, Aidan couldn't remember the word "Nativity" and instead called them "Activity scenes" - aptly named, as it turns out --

Aidan loves to re-arrange each set of manger-gazers in such a way so that everyone is gathered around the Baby Jesus to admire him. He is creative in his design; I loved finding the animals nestled right between Mary and the wise men. Most often, they huddled in a tight circle around the baby, adoring him and protecting him all at once.

One nativity traveled to church with us on Sunday mornings, and Pax enjoyed seeing how many times he could throw the camel on the ground and still have us pick it up and give it back to him. Next it was the sheep, and then it was Joseph. When he started to chew on the Baby Jesus, however, we decided he'd had enough of the creche. Hastily, each of us grabbed a piece and put it out of Pax's sight to save for another day. Later, I was troubled that I couldn't find all the parts, but decided they would turn up sooner or later.

A week later, Aidan came home from school and said, "Look what I found in my pocket!" (Recently washed, he was wearing the brown cords he'd worn to church). Out came the Baby Jesus from the church nativity set. I loved that he'd toted that baby around in his pocket all day long!

And then there was Leo's take on the whole manger scene. One particular set, the Little People Nativity, was featured prominently in one room of his doll house. He has a strong affinity for the Angel Gabriel, since it is his middle namesake (having only recently accepted that his name is NOT Leo Paul, but rather Leo Gabriel). That angel doesn't do much watching over the stable; instead, the donkey sits perched atop the manger scene while the angel busily drives with the camel in the undersized red Matchbox car convertible. Meanwhile, Mary attends to the baby Jesus, who had the most unfortunate encounter recorded here. He used tiny voices for each of them, high pitched for Mary and higher still for Jesus:

Mary: Oh baby, why are you crying? Let me give you a kiss (kiss)
Jesus: Um, I am crying because I hurt my cheek. Someone dropped me and I hurt my cheek.
Mary: Well does it feel better now that I gave it a kiss?
(apparently a nod from baby Jesus)
Okay, good.

Later, Leo decided Mary was a dirty thing. He took her in the bathtub with her and gave her a thorough scrubbing.
My mom also has a good number of nativity sets at her house; like Aidan, Leo loved arranging the figurines around the Baby Jesus. However, he'd taken all the Baby Jesus's from all the different nativites and gathered them together to adore one Jesus (the cutest one, perhaps?) My mom commented on all the babies and Leo responded,
"Yes, but do you know why there is no sheep here?"
"Why's that?" she asked.
L: The sheep is in time out.
Grandma: Oh, the sheep is in time out? [was the sheep ba-a-a-a-d, I wonder?] Does the baby Jesus ever get put in time out?
L: No, never. But if the Baby Jesus is being naughty, his mama takes him and puts him down for his nap and when he wakes up his behavior is much better.
G: Oh, does that happen to you sometimes?
L: Um, yep!

(Discussing the church pageant with Grandma)
Leo, what do you want to be in this year's Christmas Pageant?

L: Um, a pumpkin.
Grandma: Well, I'm not sure that there was a pumpkin at the birth of Jesus. Is there something else you want to be? A king? A shepherd?
L No. A pumpkin.

(Leo ended up being a "reluctant" king.)
Our Advent calendar included daily questions, like this one:

If you could bring the baby Jesus a gift TODAY, what would you bring him?
Aidan: Gold.
Gold? What would he do with gold? I thought it was a pretty silly gift when the wise men brought it to him in the first place!
Aidan: But I like gold, and He would, too!!
Me: Oh, okay. Well I would bring him a pacifier. It would have helped him sleep a lot better, and it would have helped Mary out, too!
Leo, what would you bring the Baby Jesus?
Leo: Hm. I would bring him a leetle, tiny Santa.

And finally - On Christmas day, as is our family tradition, I made a birthday cake for the Baby Jesus (vanilla with chocolate icing - his favorite), decorated with the plastic Baby Jesus from the aforementioned Little People nativity. Leo did not remember this cake from previous years, and didn't see the cake until it was time for dessert. He took one look at the Baby Jesus smushed into the middle of the cake and shrieked, "Why did you do that to the Baby Jesus? That is not nice! He does not like that!" He refused to touch his cake until I washed that baby clean and returned it to his safekeeping. With eyes brimming with tears and a trembling chin, he reported to me at bedtime, "I did NOT like that you put my Baby Jesus into the cake. That made me ANGRY."

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