Ancient History

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We’ve had a Fisher Price nativity scene for at least ten years. It’s still in decent shape if you overlook the handless angel. At this moment, one of the kings is missing. He was here this morning. I’m not sure if it’s Balthazar, Caspar, or Melchior. I’ve tried calling all three names and get no reply.

Last Christmas, Teddy was 16 months old. He noticed the nativity scene, but was less about playing with the characters and more about putting them in his mouth. This year, he’s two and much more sophisticated when he plays. He was delighted when he saw me take the nativity pieces out of the box and set up the scene on a tabletop in our living room. Roll call: Mary, Joseph/shepherd, Baby Jesus, all three kings, angel, donkey, camel, cow, and a sheep borrowed from another Fisher Price set. The sheep has a jaunty pink bow that’s totally out of place for ancient Judea. But so is our living room table.

Teddy, December 2012

I watched and listened as he named the little people. Baby Jesus was Ollie. The rest were guys and cows. He danced them around. He made them ride the camel and the cow, trotting back and forth. They talked to each other. And then they each took a bathroom break.

One by one, they peed behind the stable. Teddy included sound effects. Sssssssssss. Pffft. Pffft. Ssssss. “Guy go pee,” he noted crisply.

I nodded. Long journeys call from dismounting from a camel or donkey and hiking up the robes.

“Dis king drinkin’ coffee!” Teddy touched the brown plastic urn.

We'll say he's Caspar.

Dis king swung his camel through the StarofWonderbucks drive-thru. He paid for the king and camel behind him, I imagined. Gratified, they started a chain that continues to this very day, snaking through my living room on an early December Tuesday morning.

We played some more with Teddy taking the lead. It was over when he noticed a train in a snow globe.

Someday, he will learn the king was bearing myrrh, an aromatic resin derived from a tree and used in burial. It was intimately connected with death, something that’s an odd baby gift. There is no official Fisher Price Easter scene, but my eyes and my heart see it and sensed it as my little boy played. It’s in every nativity scene, carried in an unobtrusive box.

But for now, for him, it’s Christmas blend.

5 comments to Nativity

  • Kristy

    You made me laugh and think in the same post. Love your writing.

  • edj

    My anti-spam word is lovely, which describes this post to a T.

  • Brian

    “Hiking up the robes” – LOL

    We actually have three of those Nativity sets – Liz got them on clearance at Mardel or something once, and even with three its hard to find all the correct pieces. We also have the little drummer boy set that comes with the inn. I think the inn keeper is lost, so Liz is presently substituting a Fisher Price Wizard for him. But she joked he was now able to ‘conjur up’ a spot in the stable for Mary.

  • This is so sweet. I love this. It reminds me of when my kids were little and would play with those Little People. They had some Mega Blocks that they would set up and those would be the “working guy potties” (i.e., porta potties on the construction site.) Those guys totally had to pee a lot, and with sound effects.

    Love that he’s drinking coffee. Hey, my anti-spam word is CUDDLE. How cute is that!

  • Amy

    My mom gave us the same nativity set for my boy’s first Christmas. He still insists on setting it up every year because “it’s tradition.”

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