When just a youth, the nativity crèche
held meaning beyond the limits of his young mind.
He played out the scenes with the figurines,
over and over –
the story never old.
His family’s custom was to set the manger in early December
leave the cow’s trough empty,
young baby Jesus would await Christmas day to appear.
The privilege of placing the Christ child
in the yellow straw
his father procured from a local farmer
meant more than even the six shooters and holster
Santa left him under the tree.
He vied with his sisters to be the one
to place the babe – for the first time.
Each night thereafter
before he lay his head upon the pillow
he took the infant in his arms
placed a kiss upon His forehead,
said his evening prayers there – at the foot of the tree.
As with most teenage men
this scene held diminishing fascination.
As a young Harvard educated man
the story, not quite forgotten, but never repeated
lest his intellect be questioned.
The Crèche soon a near forgotten memory
until at age 32, he, himself, had a babe for Christmas.
Somehow it seemed only right,
he not being totally an agnostic,
to place below the trimmed green tree
the figures of a family
and a lone cow at the trough
to breathe warmth.
As he set this scene he remembered younger days.
Father and mother now gone,
the comfort of their home
the warmth of their Christmas manger,
Placing the young Christ Child on top of the refrigerator
to await Christmas day,
he could not help but plant a kiss upon its forehead
and when he laid his own head upon the pillow that evening
he wondered whether he should have it examined.
A 32 year old broker with a Harvard Masters
kisses the figurine of a young Babe
before he retires?
The next morning over coffee and the Wall Street Journal
he was distracted by the season
and when his wife arose to join him –
they had both long since stopped going to church –
he asked her what she thought about attending Midnight Mass
at the local parish within walking distance, a block and one half away,
if the evening was temperate they could wrap their own babe
in swaddling clothes and share whatever Christmas warmth
this longing fulfilled would bring.