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December 9th, 2010

This year, for Christmas, I am replacing the nativity scene.

The one we’d been putting up was something I bought when I was still a teenager, with cornhusk dolls and little wooden animals I’d picked up in an import store. It is heavy on the cute, heavy on the folksy, and good for a family with small kids.

And after 30 plus years it is falling apart. It doesn’t help that Fluffer the cat, who is obviously an atheist, likes to push Jesus out of the way and sleep in the manger. Or that Havoc the labradoodle ate one of the sheep last year.

Or maybe it was the dog. The animals are on the primitive side and the horse, sheep cat and dog don’t differ by much than color. They are also probably painted with lead paint. Although the dog is too smart for his own good, and almost too smart for us, and he could stand to lose a few IQ points, just to level the playing field, I would feel bad about purposely handicapping him by feeding him paint chips.

So I am in the market for a new set. And since I suspect that there would be good karma attached to a used nativity scene, I was shopping on EBay.

If there can be such a thing as karma on an avatar of Christianity. Anyway, I am thinking the aura, the warm fuzzy, the vibes, the past life, or whatever you want to call it, on a used nativity set is better than it would be on a used engagement ring, or a second hand firearm. I have no problem with buying used on this.
I also know that it will be cheaper. I bought cornhusks back in the 70’s. I am not the sort looking to upgrade to the full Fontanini crèche with extra buildings. Not only is it expensive, but my husband would prefer that I not cycle directly from a full Halloween village into the village of Bethlehem.

Although, for a couple of thousand dollars, I could get Mary, Joseph and sheep at almost life size…

But no. Going cheap. Ebay.

Right off the bat, I reject anything white (too bland) and brightly colored (too garnish). Jesus should not have glitter. And since I have already done folksy, I am not seeking anything too ethnic. The Peruvian set is interesting. But I do not want a llama in my manger.

Searching for maximum number of figures, I find one listed as having four kings. Interesting. But not traditional. Although, should Fluffer climb back into the barn and knock something over, I would have a spare.

And the set listed as “Nativity Scene with Black Man” might actually be breaking the no bad vibes rule. Apparently, the previous owner does not realize that the Three Kings are mixed race. On looking at the pictures of this set, I have to admit, I would have listed it as “With Al Jolson”. The king in question has an exceptionally bad paint job.

Scratch that one on “possibly racist” and “definitely ugly.”

I settle on one with a starting bid under $16 and 18 pieces. Ceramic, good condition. Brown tones with muted accents. No glitter.

We are good so far.

There are plenty of shepherds, plenty of sheep, an angel, the requisite number of kings, and a camel.
I have never had a camel. I want one.

But this is Ebay. There is always a catch. The kings have a servant. She has a hand thrown back to her forehead in what I suspect it awe. She also seems to have a pierced navel. And one exposed breast.

For $16 plus shipping, I’ve just bought a topless nativity scene.