Monday, December 8, 2014

Mangy People and All Things Pretty at Christmas

Last weekend I pulled out the Christmas decorations. I wasn't quite ready to take the autumn ones down, so I have an eclectic blend of angels and pumpkins. I will sort it out...eventually.

One of the things I put up every year is the manger scene that has been in my life since I was a child. When it was first handed down to me, I thought I'd hit the jackpot. Out of three children, I got the manger scene. I handled it with care and I treated it with reverence. 

My children grew up with that manger scene. One year, my daughter received some "Advent Straw": pieces of straw from school that she could offer to Jesus by placing them daily in the creche (I'm sure she had to do something like make her bed or by nice to her brother). They're still there.

This year I told the Hubster that I didn't want to put it up. It's embarrassing. It's so bad that I've resorted to calling the people of the manger the "Mangy People."

All of the sheep have broken legs and need to be propped up. The angel has disappeared...I suppose she moved on to proclaim the good news elsewhere. Perhaps she needed to stretch her wings a bit.

I substituted her with a cheaper model I acquired somewhere along the way; one that has cheap electronic music inside her. As you can see from her picture, she's either had her wings clipped or hasn't earned them yet. They sort of broke off the back of her.

Last year, since we are empty nesters, I decided to decorate the tree like I'd always dreamed: silver balls and decorations, red bows and a big bow on the top of the tree. It was pretty...sort of. It was actually more boring than pretty. But I left it alone.

I repeated that silver/red theme this year. It looks a little better, maybe because I've acclimated myself to it.

So, in that theme of "all things pretty at Christmas," I decided that it was time to retire the Mangy People.

"I think I'd like something simple," I explained to the man at the computer, aka Hubster, who was doing a decent job of pretending to listen. 

"Oh, okay," he agreed. He could care less, I'm sure. I should have gone for a higher ticket item.

"Yeah, maybe something like just the Holy Family. Maybe I'll see if I can get something at Wal-Mart." 

Sure. Wal-Mart will have that "all things pretty" Holy Family Statue, I'm sure. Not. 

Oh they had them. Pretty? Not so much. Jesus' hand was as big as his face and he looked like he was awkwardly waving hello, as if realizing he was a newborn and really didn't have this waving hello stuff down yet.

So a stuffed snowman went up on the table where the Mangy People used to dwell. If you walked into my home, you would not see anything that shouts, "Jesus is the reason for the season!"

Then I read a post by Ceil Ryan (Surronded by the Spirit). It was as if she was in my head. She too had a dilapidated creche. The donkey's ear had taken up residence in the same mysterious place my sheep legs were. And she didn't put the baby Jesus in the manger until Christmas (like me). And they sing Happy Birthday to Jesus on Christmas morning (like me). And here's the kicker---she loves it!

I thought, "Oh my goodness, what have I done to my poor mangy people?"

It made me ask myself why. Why didn't I want these mangy people out on display? 

Well, because they don't fit into the mold of "all things pretty."

The fact is, those people were mangy. The stable was most likely a bit dilapidated. The parents were tired, hungry and alone. Their donkey was weary and thirsty. They were sharing their beds (straw, mind you) with smelly animals who didn't excuse themselves to use the facilities. My goodness, Mary gave birth amongst all of this!

The shepherds? Well, shepherds hang out with sheep and don't see too many humans, so they were probably quite..uh...ripe.

The Wise Men? Sure, they probably had better hygiene, but having "traversed afar," I'd venture to say they fit right in.

The sheep with the broken legs? Well, isn't that all of us? We're all broken in some way. The Shepherd comes along and carries us. Our Savior makes all things new.

As much as we want "all things pretty at Christmas," it doesn't always happen. There are a lot of "mangy people" out there. Will we welcome them in? Will we set them up next to all the pretty things? Will we recognize and admit the "mangy" among the pretty things inside of ourselves? Will we bring it all to Jesus and lay it at the foot of the cradle, which exists in the shadow of the cross? Will we worship the newborn baby...the King of kings and the One who would someday and already has saved us from our sins? The one who accepts the mangy and the pretty in each of us?

Now...the biggest mystery remains...

...after 50+ years, I have yet to figure out...

Why is there a bagpiper among my Mangy People?

Blessings Along the Path,

Sharing this post with Monday Musings, Playdates With God, Sharing His Beauty, Good Morning Monday, Testimony Tuesday


  1. I love your mangy people (grin). Isn't it lovely to have a little piece of the past in your traditions? Happy Adventing.

  2. Thanks, Laura. I love that...Happy Adventing.

  3. I have mangy people too! They look very similar to yours, same era perhaps. I am your Testimony Tuesday neighbor. :)

  4. Thanks for sharing this great post at Good Morning Mondays. Blessings