Alas, it was not for sale - the shop owner put it out as part of his decorations, and it had been collected over many years. I knew that I, too, must have a creche of this magnificence, for lo, the Lord was born in a humble stable, but that doesn't mean he shouldn't have many, many chenille elves, antique farm animals, and a vintage plastic Santa to keep him company.
I've been working on it for a few years - I think it is starting to take on a character of its own. After we move down to the new house, I will build a permanent box for it, so that I don't have to worry about knocking bits off the table. Nothing is glued down - that way I get to rearrange bits every year as I add new pieces.
The whole thing, as seen from above. It's on a linen cloth in front of the sideboard. The building is Bob's model for the Elizabethan tavern we'll be building someday - this is the first year it's been used in the creche. Santa is on the left - he's dyed moulded plastic, circa 1965 or so. His reindeer are a bit wobbly (thin plastic legs), but have managed to get to the stable in time.
...What would Santa bring the baby Jesus? The "Lil' Junior Carpenter's Set - with real metal tools!" probably. Toys in the 1960s were pretty lethal, as I recall. Mmmmm, chewy lead soldiers. Tasty.
The front of the tavern, with many chenille elves and chickens. The note on the door says "no room - try stable".
The little creatures on barrels are one of my new acquisitions, and I think they're great - they're celluloid circus beasties, probably one of those "free toy inside!" promotions, and they are somewhat difficult to identify. I think the one on the left is a monkey, the one on the right is a mouse or a dog, and the one in the middle is a mutant snarfleplog from the planet Gorglesnap. It probably bites.
Mary and all her adoring admirers. Jesus has not been born yet (a Catholic tradition), but this year will be born prematurely tomorrow morning, as I won't be here Christmas day, and it seems sad to come home to an empty manger. This is a very non-pregnant-looking Mary - she must have carried low.
There are sheep, pigs, rabbits, cats, dogs, chickens, elves, angels, camels, the traditional donkey, and three wise men with a couple of extra attendants, because I forgot how many wise men I already had. "And lo, from out of the East came many well dressed men bearing gifts, but only three of them were wise. The others fell over their feet a lot, and lost their camels".
Like all people staying at an inn, Mary got a porter to carry her bags. Since the Middle East is a bit unstable, she also got a couple of soldiers to stand guard (okay, if you want to be serious about this, they represent the Christmas Truce - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christmas_truce - between British and German soldiers in WWI). The knight on a horse and the dinosaur were in town for a filming of Ridley Scott's new epic Kingdom of Dinosaur Heaven, and were taking a break (yes, I have no explanation for this. I liked the toys).
The rabbits and geese get a close-up view, because they're cute, not like those fat pigs (see yesterday's post).
The white rabbits on the left are glass beads, the dark rabbits are lead, and the white one in front is celluloid. Of course, your eye is probably immediately drawn to the giant goose butt front and center. Darn geese.
I love bottle brush trees, especially the decorated ones. I also really dig the 1940-60 cheap paper and fabric ornaments, like the little angel on the chimney of the tavern. I also really love chenille creatures.
And finally, the elf band "The Tipsy Chenilles" will play happy music for one and all. The black sheep in front of them is a reproduction I picked up at the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival, the white sheep in front of the black one is about 70 years old.
I want to thank everyone for their responses yesterday - y'all are very cool. I hope you take some of the thoughts you expressed in my comments and turn them into posts of your own.
Last, before I leave you for several days, let us visit again the idea of fat - I am massively huge, according to the film industry, as I wear a size 8 (and sometimes a 10). So naturally, I'd look like a bloated blob in any revealing clothing, right?
Happy Holidays to all of us who are too fat for Hollywood's taste.