Of nativity scenes and Christmas joy

I usually try to write posts that will appeal to a general audience, no inside jokes, no personal details, because I believe the journey of an adult child is universal. However, I also write as therapy, so this post is different. You can probably stop reading right now if we didn’t grow up together. Or not. Anyway, I can’t blame the contents of this post on any one but myself–unlike those mystery thumb tacks in the door…

This will be my first Christmas as an “adult orphan,” my first with no living parent. Of course, that goes for my eight siblings as well. The nine of us will each get through the holiday in our own way, feeling their absence as individually as we felt their presence when we were children. Despite our being a pack of nine, despite the fact that we are still recognized in our home town, decades later,  as “one of the Pola children,” there is no doubt we were raised to be separate, independently thinking units of one.

I could choose to mourn my parents, but I won’t. I give thanks for the everlasting life I am sure they now share, side by side as they were in love and life. Would it be grand to speak to them, hug them, cook a holiday meal for them, and share our earthly blessings? Will my day be less full without them? Will I mist up again and again as I have the last few days when they cross my mind? No doubt.

And yet, a touch of silliness has set upon me. It’s a vision I can’t shake and one that dispels my tears with a smile. It’s been prompted, I would guess, by my mother’s love for creches. Her china cabinet held a beautiful display, many of which she’d collected over the years while traveling to the far corners of this earth. So let’s blame this vision on her and on my poor sleep patterns… and Lord forgive me if anyone finds this sacrilegious. It’s desperate times, this first Christmas as an orphan. I must find happiness where ever I can.

My dear siblings, picture this, and smile along with me:

There’s Daddy, one of the Wise Men, of course… but with a tool belt slung around his hips, thoughtfully stroking his beard, mentally sizing up the manger and wondering how he might remodel to accommodate the crowd.

There are the nine of us… in the guise of a donkey, an ox, three camels and some sheep. There might even be a Border Collie. I decline to put a face on each. You are who you choose to be, just as Mom and Dad taught us. Personally, depending on what side of the bed I woke up on, I admit to being any one of the aforementioned on any given day. In any case, we are gathered round, adoringly, as is fitting. Left-handers on the outside corners, please.

There are angels, all familiar, all floating above in harmony and peace. So many angels, more and more as we grow older. But I digress… this is meant to make you smile.

And, yes, there is Mary… and here is where God must forgive me, as she looks suspiciously like Mom. She is gazing lovingly into the cradle (a gift from the crafty Wise Man).  She pulls at the corner of the crib blanket where it has hung up on a crooked nail (remember, he was on the road and didn’t have a lot to work with), draws back the cover and cries out. “Honestly, ONE I could understand… but how the hell did I end up with NINE?!”

Maybe you had to be there. But I’m still smiling. God bless us, every one.

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