Five and a half years ago we divided up the remnants of my parents’ belongings. My Dad had died on Easter Day that year and then, after his funeral and getting things initially settled, we gathered one last time in late May to sort out a life’s collection of things. We chose things by birth order, selecting among the sentimental or practical items that remained, and I was number six. I had my mind’s eye on an item in a Rubermaid container buried deep in the basement that I hoped would be forgotten or overlooked by my older siblings. I have no idea what they chose, frankly, I think someone grabbed a Bose system, and another the dinnerware. I just know that the first five picked and my item remained. When all eyes fell to me, I quickly said, “Mom and Dad’s creche.”
[featured-image single_newwindow=”false”]Phil LaBelle, 2017.[/featured-image]
I loved that nativity scene. The stable was hewn out of rough wood; remnants of lumber that had been around an old barn at my godparent’s home. The figurines were painted by hand too, Mary and Joseph, Jesus in the manger, camels and magi and shepherds and an angel. My mom and dad received it from my godparents—my mom’s brother and sister-in-law—the year they moved with their three kids out to the country. The house they moved to was next to a dairy farm, and that had to be 40 years ago now. My family spent nearly every weekend at my Uncle Jim and Aunt Linda’s old farmhouse that summer, my dad helping with the electrical and other odd jobs, and my mom helping to clean and get them settled in, as that dusty old house became a home. We kids would play in the barn—jumping in to piles of hay—or running threw the cornfields that grew on both sides of their yard.