Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Away in a Manger: the Quirky Creche

I have always been enchanted by the fact that Jesus was born in a manger (did I mention that I was a home birth mom?). Perhaps it's the mental merging of the home birth experience with a love for diverse small farms...or something like that. One of my favorite children's books is Who is Coming to Our House?, by artist Ashley Wolff. She uses a linoleum block technique to illustrate Joseph Slate's story of animals anticipating the birth. Christ's name is never even used (though Joseph's and Mary's are): "Who is coming to our house?" "Someone, someone," says mouse. It is subtle and somehow more awe-some.

It's soon time to pack away the little array of Christmas decorations we have our on our sideboard. I decorated our little Hoosier cabin to make a quirky creche. Christ observes his own swaddling self from the vantage point of both childhood and young manhood, alongside other guests.

I was at the home of Malcolm Dalglish and Judy Klein the other day  – for years, with their daughters Naomi and Mia, they've created a mossy creche at the base of their gloriously old-fashioned Christmas tree. There are a couple of nuns standing at a respectful distance from the babe, and a Mexican women's chorus singing nearby, as well as a large rooster observing from a branch of the Christmas tree. Here is the scene, enhanced for a few numinous effects, including a multiplied, more emphatic, choral ensemble.(And I love the ghostly praying squirrel.)

Here's another sweet moment in their tree: a little Hickory bark skier. (And many thanks to Judy for coining the word "diversitrees" in relation to Susan Bee's paintings, and pointing out that this, too, is one.)


Daughter Number Three said...

I love this... I like to think if I didn't have cats on a destructive binge, I would do something like this, but it never really happened pre-cats, so who am I kidding.

elena said...

The little hickory bark skier is so sweet...and such a brilliant idea!

They use old fashioned colored lights and cover them with colored tissue. This produces a beautiful muted and glowing effect.

This is one of the most wonderful trees ever...with a dear old big real live dog sleeping nearby. (No cats...)