Away in a Manger

   I have always loved Christmas. Not religious Christmas.  Lights, camera, action Christmas.  Music, the smell of trees, decorations way over the top.

But one of my favorite Christmas memories has to do with a midnight mass I attended with my friends Tim (from England) and David (my next door neighbor).  Tim was the only Catholic.

It was a Polish Catholic church.  You’ll see why that matters in a moment.  We were being all adult and dignified.  Really.  We had no idea that we were about to turn into ten- year-olds.

The service began.  There was a life-sized manger scene at the front of the church.  No baby Jesus in the manger.  At a very solemn moment, a specially chosen altar boy had the honor of carrying the baby Jesus figure down the aisle to place it gently into its crib.

Unfortunately, karma stepped in and fucked everything up.

Shortly after the altar boy passed us, the head of the baby Jesus separated itself from the body, hit the floor with a bang and rolled noisily down the aisle, landing under the front pew.

There was a mad scramble up front, but I can’t describe it because the three of us turned into a giggling, snorting,hysterical blob of  juvenile humanity.

After a seemingly eternal while, we managed to pull ourselves together. Until a not very good tenor began singing multiple verses of O Holy Night in Polish.

At the end of the Mass, we filed quietly out of our humiliation into the dark cold outside.  And like someone pulled a switch, it began to snow.  Christmas doesn’t get any better than that.

5 thoughts on “Away in a Manger

  1. I wish I could read an entire book of stories like this–so powerful, and so precise in its chosen details. Has anyone told you yet that you’re a magnificent and masterful writer? I find your vignettes breathtaking.

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