Sunday, December 25, 2011

An unglazed Baby Jesus.

Years ago, when my mom enjoyed working in ceramics, she decided to make Vicki and me a nativity set, one for each daughter to cherish for years to come. 

Now, there are a number of pieces to the nativity sets that mom decided to make for us.  Not only are they made up of the three wise men and the Holy Family of Mary, Joseph, and the Baby Jesus, our nativity sets have a glorious Angel of the Lord, a camel, a shepherd holding a lamb, a sheep, a cow, a donkey, and a ram. They are full and unique nativity sets.

And my nativity set is even more full and unique than my sister’s.  You see, somehow, my set ended up with two identical sheep (well, identical except for the one sheep that has the broken and mended ear), an extra wise man or two, and a random guy standing solemnly looking on.  And unlike the fired glossiness of all the other figures in the set, my Baby Jesus has the matte finish of chalk (his straw-lined manger is glossy, but He is not). 

I remember the first time I opened my box of nativity figures, and the first time I laid eyes on my chalky Jesus.  “What happened to the Baby Jesus?” I asked mom.  “Well, I was making so many nativity sets at the same time (which explained my extra wise men and my Dolly the sheep with her clone), and I guess I forgot to glaze Him with the rest.”

I stared down disapprovingly at my little unglazed Jesus and sighed.  He wasn’t very pretty, and He sure didn’t fit in with the rest of the shiny figures…

Now, over the years I’ve come to really appreciate everything about that nativity set.  First, my mom made it for me, herself.  So it is special in that, when she wanted Vicki and me to have nativity sets, she didn’t go out and purchase us mass-produced ones from Kmart.  She made them for us with her own two hands, with love for her daughters and with the spirit of generosity.  Second, the sets are not perfect in a traditional sense. Speaking only for my own nativity set, I have an unglazed Baby Jesus, some extra wise men, a solemn unidentified guy, and a broken-eared sheep to go along with all the usual nativity stuff.  Nobody else’s nativity set has all that, which means that my set is all the more special.  It also means that when Eric and I eventually get around to building a crèche for the set, we will have to include an annex to house all the extra figures…

1 comment:

lauri said...

Carol, have you considered the Christology of an unglazed Jesus? I love the idea of "God with us" unglazed and fully human. We have so many glazed, perfect, no crying he makes, fully divine Christ childs in our navitities. Your unglazed babe is a perfect reminder of Jesus' humility and humanity.