catapult magazine

catapult magazine

Vol 5, Num 23 :: 2006.12.15 — 2006.12.29


Unto us

Part 4 of 4

NativityI'm from one of those families where the elders like to say how thankful they are for "a goodly, godly heritage."  This crèche was a way to pay tribute to my family and our strong Christian heritage, the "faith of our fathers" handed down for generations.  In my mind my mother and father, who gave their lives selflessly to serve others, deserve to be in the place of Mary and Joseph.  In my mind this physical artifact references the spiritual value my family places in the choice my parents made to live much of their lives in a cultural setting so different from the one with which they were familiar.

I confess I felt a bit, well, sacrilegious at times while making this crèche, especially when putting my sister Lois in the manger as the baby Jesus.  Yet it was more like putting her at home—there in the center of her family and friends and the many different places she has lived—than it was like making her god.  I think God understands.

These days Lois has no real home.  She's stayed single, never bought a house, and in the last five years has continued our family's tradition of moving frequently.  At present she lives on an isolated reserve in Ontario, Canada, one of those settlements you can only drive to when it's winter and the road goes over the frozen lakes.  Everything she owns that she couldn't carry with her is stored in "her" room at my parents' retirement house in Pennsylvania.  A good part of that stash is her crèche collection.

Lois likes to set up her crèches at Christmas whenever she can.  Though she enjoys the traveling life, one of her regrets is that she has no place of her own to regularly show these pieces off.  I think these art objects, whether mass-produced or hand made, incarnate a bit of home for her, and insofar as home is imbued with the spirit of God then they make Jesus human for her a little bit more each Christmas.

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