Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The Parable of the Creche


It's Christmas season and that means it's time for my annual telling of . . .

The Parable of the Creche

When first I came to Roxborough, a third of a century ago, the creche was already a tradition of long standing.  Every year it appeared in Gorgas Park during the Christmas season.  It wasn't all that big -- maybe seven feet high at its tip -- and it wasn't very fancy.  The figures of Joseph and Mary, the Christ Child, and the animals were a couple of feet high at best, and there were sheets of Plexiglas over the front of the wooden construction to keep people from walking off with them.  But it was loved.

It was a common sight to see people standing in front of the creche, admiring it.  Sometimes they brought their small children to see it for the first time and that was genuinely touching.  It provided a welcome touch of seasonality and community to the park.

Alas, Gorgas Park was publicly owned, and it was only a matter of time before somebody complained that the creche violated the principle of the separation of church and state.  When the complaint finally came, the creche was taken out of the park and put into storage.

People were upset of course.  Nobody liked seeing a beloved tradition disappear.  There was a certain amount of grumbling and disgruntlement.

So the kind people of Leverington Presbyterian Church, located just across the street from the park, stepped in.  They adopted the creche and put it up on the yard in front of their church, where it could be seen and enjoyed by all.

But did this make us happy?  It did not.   The creche was just not the same, located in front of a church.  It seemed lessened, in some strange way, made into a prop for the Presbyterians.

I was in a local tappie, shortly after the adoption, and heard one of the barflies holding forth on this very subject:

"The god-damned Christians," he said, "have hijacked Christmas!"

And while I'm talking about the holidays . . .

I might as well remind you that Marianne's nano-industrial complex, Dragonstairs Press has put last year's Christmas chapbook up for sale.  Every year since 2011, she's commissioned me to write three seasonal works of flash fiction for a holiday chapbook which she designs, assembles, and hand-sews in a signed limited edition of 100. The bulk of these go out to friends of the Press.  Those that are left over go up for sale a year later.

Last year's Yuletide chapbook, Midwinter Elves, started out with thirty copies available for sale, but a lot of them have gone into the mail already.  The original Solstice chapbook, It Came Upon A Midnight, was down to nine copies when last I checked.

The perfect stocking stuffer for that bookish Significant Other of yours.  Unless s/he's a collector, in which case you're going to be in big trouble if it get wrinkled.


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