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Creche of Doom!

So, one more day until I'm off visiting Bob's relatives and spending Christmas Day in our new house.  There are no decorations up down there, but we have a pre-lit artificial tree, and I might see about slapping that up so we have something to put the stockings under.

Up here at the apartment, like I said a couple of days ago, we have nothing but a wreath on the door (it's a nice wreath), and my creche, which grows bigger every year.  This creche used to just be a set of vintage chalkware figures picked up randomly from antique stores, but one day we were browsing the town of Newmarket, MD, which is filled with antique stores, and I saw the most magnificent creche I've ever seen in my life.  It was huge - about six feet square, and filled with vintage toys and Christmas figures.  I wanted it.  I lusted for it.  I needed it.  I spent about twenty minutes exclaiming over all the little figures and vintage children's miniatures.

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. 


( 33 brains — Leave a chunk of brain! )
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Dec. 20th, 2007 01:53 pm (UTC)
I know you Brits are kinda crazy, so I'll wish you a Happy Christmas instead of a merry one! *grins* Have fun, and I love the creche, never seen one like that before.

And great dress! I work at a dept store, in the plus size and petite depts so I get to see both ends of the spectrum every day... Its kinda crazy. Either way it goes, I have over priced clothing to sell for folks.. And i love your other post, it was spot on. That stuff drives me insane as well.. thankfully, i've never met a guy who liked the industry's ideal body type. Cause then I'd have to point and laugh....

Dec. 20th, 2007 02:00 pm (UTC)
My son loves the little procession of ducks...

As an aside - whenever we visit the park across from Grandma's house, he feeds the ducks. Froot Loops appear to be their preference. So now, after he is done, he wanders around, and they queue up right behind him like rats behind the piep piper...

Nice dress. If I were a bishop, I'd be looking for a stained-glass window to kick out. Smokin...

Dec. 20th, 2007 02:05 pm (UTC)

The ducks are actually 1960s Swedish, and very cute. They have a big folk art tradition, and I lucked out into thse when I was in an antique store one day (pretty much all my pieces come from antique stores - I could buy on e-Bay, but then the thrill of the hunt isn't as big).
Dec. 20th, 2007 02:10 pm (UTC)
You look gorgeous in that dress!

I love the creche, and the figures you have of Mary and Joseph and the animals are exactly the ones we had in my family's creche when I was a kid! I think they are all gone now, because I recall being extra hard on those plaster figures when my brother and I were playing 'Baby Jesus'. :)

Dec. 20th, 2007 02:26 pm (UTC)
Thank you! The figurines are a bit fragile - I always wrap them in tissue paper before I store them. I figure the worn look just makes them more precious. :)

There are also birds and cats on the roof of the stable. :)
Dec. 20th, 2007 02:15 pm (UTC)
That is wonderful! My mom always dis a similar thing, and I have all her stuff, just no room to put it. By the time my Mom died, she had expanded to 3 trees, one in each corner of the living room, and enough village(s) and creches to fill in around and between them.

The pieces that are *always* out with the creche, even when there is nothing else from the display going on, are the Little Drummer boy and the treasure chest ring box that my Mom's engagement ring came in.

Someday, I will live somewhere with a big enough living room that one tree doesn't crowd us out.

Dec. 20th, 2007 02:24 pm (UTC)
Yea you win. I did think it was cute though how my kindergarten kids used the creche I put in the classsroom. By the end of the week Mary's visitors included an entire fleet of "Little People" Pirates and all of their parrots, a contingent of Dinosaurs, 2 Buzz Lightyears and every barnyard animal they could find.
Dec. 20th, 2007 02:29 pm (UTC)
I love the idea of non-traditional figures in the creche - it's a beautiful way to show the contemporary nature of the Jesus story (for those that are into it, of course).

Mine is modeled on the French style of creche, which includes the postman, the milkman, and other village personages. My favourites are the soldiers, though. I love the Christmas Truce story.
(no subject) - tinchick - Dec. 20th, 2007 03:32 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - corbaegirl - Dec. 20th, 2007 04:05 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - bdeb - Dec. 20th, 2007 09:20 pm (UTC) - Expand
Dec. 20th, 2007 02:46 pm (UTC)
Since we are waiting for the baby jesus to arrive too, the space is empty. I have taken to filling it with random figures that I have around the house. Bobble-head Tigger (there is joke in there somewhere...) was the first Jesus stand in. I don't think Kim has noticed that Babara Gorden ala Batgirl has made an appearance yet...
Dec. 20th, 2007 03:09 pm (UTC)
The English writer Jilly Cooper tells a hilarious story of being at her mother in law's house, and there being a huge fight because the Virgin Mary figurine went missing. It was found hours later under one of the grandkids' beds, she says, "clasped in the lacivious grasp of a GI Joe".

I Lol'ed.
(no subject) - firehauke - Dec. 20th, 2007 09:19 pm (UTC) - Expand
(Deleted comment)
Dec. 20th, 2007 03:34 pm (UTC)
Re: Sweet babay jeebus!
That is a serious 'stache there on that Baptist fella. :)
Re: Sweet babay jeebus! - florentinescot - Dec. 20th, 2007 03:36 pm (UTC) - Expand
Dec. 20th, 2007 03:33 pm (UTC)
indeed. fat you are. Ugly Bag of Mostly Water!

heh. If you're fat, I'm grossly obese in my 14/16 lard-ish-ness. I, am fat, you on the other hand look like I wish I did. It's coming off, slowly, but it's coming off.

I know Medieval/Renaissance art was overflowing with Birth and Adoration scenes, but when did the creche as we know it today come about -- do you know? Can you point me in the right direction to look?
Dec. 20th, 2007 03:37 pm (UTC)
Wow, I don't know. I get all my information from Wikipedia. :P

I'm thinking it's probably an offshoot of the Renaissance scenes, and maybe has its roots in live re-enactments of the nativity scene, but I honestly have no idea, sorry.
(no subject) - florentinescot - Dec. 20th, 2007 04:01 pm (UTC) - Expand
Dec. 20th, 2007 03:49 pm (UTC)
I'm so glad that scribe_ari linked to this post-- between her wise-assesmen bearing "gold, frankincense, myrrh and the head of Starsky" up there, and your "only three were wise", I have completely cracked up laughing and had office-mates come over to see what the deal was.

Thank you!
(Deleted comment)
Dec. 20th, 2007 04:17 pm (UTC)
Thanks. :)
Dec. 20th, 2007 04:19 pm (UTC)
Happy holidays!!! I enjoy reading your posts very much. Might actually have to meet you next Pennsic *shock*. *G*

My grandma had a printed cardboard nativity set from the 30s or early 40s. It went up every year and was battered and overloved. The stable and figures were punched out and slotted together every year. Some of the tabs were taped with tape older than me!

But we loved it.
Dec. 20th, 2007 04:24 pm (UTC)
Same to you. :) I love old Christmas things - those tacky beaded ornaments, the old cheap decorative bits, all of it - it just seems more cool when it once was loved by someone else, and I've given it a new home. There's also the whole "retro" appeal (a sign of difficult economic times, usually) that fills the stores with reproductions.

As incredibly silly as it is, I like the real thing, even if it is faded and not as pretty (though I'll buy the new stuff, too) - it's hard to describe, but it feels like a thread connecting me with the past, and makes me feel like there's more than just the now.
Dec. 20th, 2007 07:29 pm (UTC)
Wow! Soon you'll be sleeping under the table and setting up the creche on your bed. It has expanded from it's humble beginnings under the side table.

Now you've got me longingly wondering where the 70's wooden puzzle nativity scene that we would set-up as kids got off to. Hopefully my parents still have it somewhere.

Oh, and nice dress too, skinny. :)
Dec. 20th, 2007 08:56 pm (UTC)
You look awesome in that dress. WOOHOO!
Dec. 20th, 2007 09:22 pm (UTC)
iawtc...hawt doesn't begin to describe that sultry look.

and I'd kill for a size 14 again. Alas, I'm among the 'morbidly obese' at 280+ lbs. sigh. and no, I don't look like I carry that much.
Dec. 20th, 2007 11:15 pm (UTC)
My mother collects nativity scenes. I bought her a new one this year, bringing her up to 17 sets. Hers each match. I think I shall have to expand my set to one like yours. ;> I love it!
Dec. 21st, 2007 12:47 am (UTC)
the nativity scene i remember as a kid was made by my mom and grandmother in a molded ceramics class, and the baby Jesus was already in the manger. However, on the advent calendar my grandmother made me, he didn't get put up till Christmas Eve, after the partridges, the cats and dogs, stocking, and santa were already up. AND he got the middle of the tree.

since you won't be able to read my merry christmas to all post next week....

Happy Christmas (and Happy New Year) from the great white (and brown) southland. Where it is about the same temperature here as it is in MD.
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