Monday, December 14, 2009

A Different Kind of Nativity Story

“Watch this,” my sister nodded toward her daughters, then age 6 and 4, playing in the living room. Rachael, the older of the two, rolled the Fisher Price school bus up to the nativity set my sister had set out on the hearth of the unused fireplace in preparation for Christmas. I had noticed that the figurines were askew when I came in, but didn’t say anything; I figured that they were a casualty of having little ones in the house.

Rachael piled the three wise men, and whoever else was present at the birth of Jesus, into the bus. “OK, let’s go,” she called cheerfully to them. She drove the bus in a loopy pattern across the off-white berber carpet, all the while chattering to her bus full of biblical vagabonds. The bus stopped at some unseen wonder on the far end of the couch, in front of the end table.

“OK everyone, five minutes,” she instructed the wise men. With the help of Rachael, the passengers filed out and stood facing some unseen wonder on that side of the room. It must have been one of the wonders of the world, as that bus had to traverse the entire living room for them all to see it. I wondered whether they were viewing the Grand Canyon or Mount Rushmore, on the far side of the sofa that day. I wonder what Rachael imagined they were looking at.

“Time to go back, we're going to be late” she warned her passengers. They filed into the bus and stood on the seats. Their heads stood out of the sun roof, which I am sure must have been a chilly ride back to a manger in a barn at the end of December. She helped the “wise guys” and friends out of the bus and carefully arranged them around the manger.

She held up one of the wise men and examined the figurine carefully. “Hey,” she pointed to it, “Why isn’t he wearing shoes? Mom says I can’t wear sandals in the winter. It’s too cold.”

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