Sunday, December 18, 2011
THE ADVENTURES OF BABY JESUS by Cheryl Pierson
Hi everyone! This is a version of a story that was published by Adams Media several years ago in one of their Christmas anthologies. I had several stories in their Christmas anthologies and their "Rocking Chair Reader" series anthologies, and this one was one that I thought you all might like that gives a glimpse into a little girl's idea of Christmas in the early 60's. I hope you enjoy!
No one loved Baby Jesus like I did. He was my constant holiday companion. From the moment we took the nativity set from the box to decorate for Christmas, I carried him with me.
I couldn’t just let Him just lay in the cardboard manger unattended. The nativity was old, even older than I was. It was made of thick brown cardboard, as was the manger. A few pieces of straw were glued into it, but not nearly enough to make a good baby bed!
I thought of Baby Jesus as the little brother I had begged for and never got. Someone had to take care of Him. Jesus, Mary and Joseph, as well as two of the attending sheep, were made of plaster. They’d chip or break if not handled with great care.
At four years old, I knew how to be careful—especially with Baby Jesus and His entourage. The proof of what could happen was all too evident in poor Mary. Two years ago, Someone had been too rough, and there had been a terrible accident. The blue shawl that covered Mary’s back had been broken, revealing a ghastly silver rod that disappeared into what was left of her shawl, gathered about her feet. At the top, the exposed rod extended into the back of her head. Mary had to be positioned just so, to keep the world from seeing that horrid sliver of metal that kept her in one piece.
I couldn’t help wondering if my Baby Jesus had a rod running through Him like His mother did. I finally convinced myself He didn’t—He was a lot smaller, and there probably weren’t any rods that tiny...Being the Son of God, He didn’t need a rod.
Joseph struck a thoughtful pose, kneeling beside Mary, both of them watching the perpetually empty manger. He was a bit wobbly since Someone, in a terrible accident, had chipped quite a chunk from his orange and yellow robe near his feet. Kneeling was a challenge for him now, but not impossible—especially if he leaned a little on Mary or the manger, or one of the poor chalk sheep who had lost their tails somewhere along the way.
The three kings added color to the scene in robes of red, green, and purple. They had been added at a later time, and were made of a thick, brittle plastic rather than plaster. They carried gifts that were of no value to a baby.
Balthasar’s arm was missing. He had been extending his gift of frankincense—perfume! I cut a small blanket of green velveteen from the back of a dress in my closet and laid it over his stump. Jesus would enjoy a warm blanket in that drafty stable more than an old bottle of perfume.
Melchior knelt in humble repose, a hinged gold box in his hands. As if Jesus could open a box! Being four, I didn’t have any “baby toys” left to offer, but I did have something better than what those supposed “wise men” brought.
I had colored marbles—something pretty for Jesus to look at. And I had crayons to color Him a picture. I imagined Baby Jesus would be getting mighty tired of Christmas music right about then—it was all He ever heard. I headed for my collection of 45’s and settled one onto the turntable of my record player. Johnny Horton belted out the strains of “North to Alaska” while Baby Jesus and I danced together.
We didn’t have a Drummer Boy for our nativity set, and I felt the loss keenly. I wanted our Baby Jesus to have the best nativity in the world. It was bad enough that Someone had irreparably broken the only shepherd we had about two years ago in a terrible accident. Now, we had sheep milling in the stable with no shepherd, and no Little Drummer Boy, either.
It was a situation I could easily remedy. I had four different colors of Play-Doh. After a long, tedious ten minutes, I had what I considered to be a passable Drummer Boy and his drum—complete with tiny drumsticks.
The other wise man, Caspar, was in bad shape, but there was no help for it. Someone, in a terrible accident, had broken off his head. My mother had re-glued it, but after it had dried, the glue line showed as if he had not washed his neck after a month of hot Oklahoma summer days. I tied my Annie Oakley bandana around him. It would cover his broken neck, and give him a mysterious look—like a western Superman carrying his leather-bound gift box. It contained myrrh, which I knew was a kind of oil. Finally, something Baby Jesus could use!
We had a cow, a donkey, and an angel made from the same hard plastic as the wise men. In a terrible accident two years ago, the donkey’s rear had been broken off. I put him at the back of the stable. The cow was lying on the ground, its legs folded beneath it. It must have seen whatever had befallen the donkey and gotten to the ground in time to avoid disaster.
The angel baffled me, though. Evidently, she had not been so quick or lucky. There was the same brown glue line across her right wing that poor Caspar suffered at the neck, and I was fresh out of bandanas. I figured she had slipped off the stable roof a couple of years ago. She never watched where she was going, because she was looking up to the heavens, singing. Maybe, her being an angel and all, that injury would heal. By next Christmas, we might not even be able to see it...
I brought Baby Jesus out of my pocket and gave Him a kiss. It was then that I noticed what bad shape He was in. I had loved Him too much! His baby hair was spotty, as if the paint had been worn off in places. His body was dappled unevenly from constant handling, and His nose was almost completely flat.
But His blue eyes were open, sparkling joyously. I knew He must have caught a glimpse of His nativity set. I held him out to get a good look.
I had taped a freshly colored picture of a boy and his puppy inside the stable wall. It covered the window and kept out the night wind. I showed Him His bed with the marbles around the base of it, the sheep on guard to keep them from rolling out of the stable.
Caspar’s bandana looked mighty fine, safety-pinned across the glue line. I had done as much as I could for the others; hidden the donkey’s broken rear and Mary’s metal rod, and let Joseph surreptitiously lean against the kneeling cow so he wouldn’t fall.
I laid Baby Jesus in His bed and covered Him with Balthazar’s new offering—the blanket.
Just then, my mother rounded the corner, the green velveteen dress in her hands, a look of disbelief in her eyes. “Cheryl, do you know what happened to this dress?”
I only hoped Baby Jesus could help me, now.
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