Away in a manger
Last Christmas, it occurred to my wife that we should have two manger scenes: one the kids could interact with, and one that is kept looking nice. The child’s manger scene, in our case, is made of hard plastic. It consists of the manger, and plastic figures for all the participants. That’s quite a lot of plastic figures, actually. Between the shepherds, animals, wise men, angels, Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus, there are probably close to 30 of them. The figures are all solid sturdy hard plastic and just large enough to make swallowing them impossible.
We have it set up on a big wooden chest in the dining room, and the kids love it. My oldest son, in particular, spends loads of time re-arranging the manger scene.
The other evening we were having a wonderful Christmasy moment. The tree was decorated and its lights were turned on, my youngest son was playing by himself, and his older brother was playing with the manger.
First he arranged all the figures in a single-file line, leading up to baby Jesus. They had to “wait their turn”, don’t you know.
Apparently, there was trouble shortly after that, because when I looked over a while later, I saw that he had put all the figures in a line with their backs to baby Jesus. I asked him, and it turned out that they were all in time out.
A harsh time out, indeed.
He sorted things out, however, and went back to playing.
Suddenly, our peaceful night was shattered by a loud “BANG! BANG -BANG, BANG!”
My oldest son had gotten bored. He had grabbed the nearest figure and was banging it on the wooden chest. The nearest figure, in this case, was baby Jesus. I was horrified. It’s taken me a year to be okay with playing with a manger scene in the first place. Banging baby Jesus? That’s right out.
“No banging baby Jesus!” I shouted.
He looked at me, shocked. He looked at the figure in his hand. Then he looked rather sheepishly down at at his toes. “Okay, Daddy. I’m sorry, Daddy.” He put baby Jesus back in the manger.
And so was born a new rule in our household: no banging baby Jesus.