Monday, 24 December 2012

Ox and Ass - and the rest







Disturbing news reached me earlier this week from a fellow blogger: the entire menagerie - and the heavenly host! - from her Christmas crib had gone AWOL (last seen in the loft). I sympathised; we've had two cribs go missing over the years, never found. One was a delightful Fairtrade wooden set: I can't remember which country it came from but I strongly suspect it was somewhere where camels are not normally found. The Wise Mens' steeds had bug ears, no humps and resembled no camel I'd ever seen.  It was a lovely crib, though; I miss it. Wonder what became of it...
Of course, if you followed the link above you'll see that Greenpatches' story has obviously had a happy ending.  I do like Zebedee - reminds me of Catriona's giant sheep over at A Skinny Fairtrade Latte...



Strangely proportioned characters are an occupational hazard in setting up Christmas cribs. There used to be a marvellous column in The Universe called The Secret Diary of Fr Hadrian Mule. Here's a cautionary Christmas entry:



"Tuesday: Just when I thought all was well with the crib some careless person dropped the ox. (Actually it came apart in my hands.) An offer from a butcher's wife of the large china animal from her husband's shop was declined when I realised that the said object was marked with all the cuts of beef. I felt the vegans in the congregation would understandably object. But then Divine Providence stepped in and a lady explained that she had intended presenting the church with a carved ox in memory of her uncle who had reared pedigree bulls and that it was ready.



Wednesday: The carved ox duly arrived. In fact, it is only half the size of the ass - not a serious problem as the figures are so out of proportion anyway that they look like characters out of two versions of Gulliver's Travels. However, carved on the ox's rump steak was: 'In memory of Syd Bloggs'. The ox was discreetly turned away from the shepherds who ranged from 2ft 6ins to 8ft."



Happy memories of one parish where I once served. The old and much-used china ox had to have its rump steak turned away from view, for a different reason: it was affectionately known to us all as "the cow with the broken bum".

But it's good - essential - to have the animals there. In this icon of the nativity the adoring ox and ass are closest of all to the Child - closer even than his mother. They are right there with him in the dark cave of our creaturehood, which he came to share and redeem. They know their Master simply, instinctively and intuitively. Would that we could too!


Have a beautiful, peaceful and blessed Christmas! Thank you for your company.









8 comments:

  1. Have a wonderful and peaceful Christmas, Antonia. If you've a spare moment, do pop over to shipoffools.com - they've just started a thread on just what you've been writing about "Odd Characters in Your Nativity Scene!"

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    1. I had a look - brilliant! Now I just need to find a dinosaur... We do have a Highland bull bigger than all the other characters put together, and a whippet, oh and Tintin's Snowy...

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    2. GP - if you get to read this... I did reply and wished you too a happy and peaceful Christmas. Just realised my comment didn't materialise (good old Blogger!). Hope you didn't think me rude. Gist of comment above - or below, depending on where it appears.

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  2. Happy Christmas, Antonia!

    I have unusual animals in one of my put together nativities, too.

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    1. Thanks, Penny. A very happy and blessed Christmas to you too!

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  3. We did a "posada" one year at our church; members of the congregation each hosted the nativity set for a night, bringing it back into church in time for Christmas Day. I did not take part, but I bought a nativity scene in a box, and sent it off on its own posada, starting with the neighbours, with the instructions taped to the box that it had to be passed on to someone else every day. I have no idea where it ended up... but I hope it made a difference to the people who encountered it on its journey.

    Happy Christmas, Antonia, and also to all your readers.

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    1. What a lovely idea... Thank you, Kirsten, and have a joyful and peaceful Christmas!

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  4. Kirsten, I love that idea. Must tuck it away for another year, perhaps. Our church is doing "posada" this Christmas for the first time - with knitted Mary, Joseph and a donkey named Dougal!

    Belated Happy Christmas to everybody.

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I'd love to read your comments, and I'll try to reply to each one.