When we first married, starting our family, we bought a crèche from Woolworth’s — a basic set with the family and a crude stable. For ten or so years after, we could buy individual figures to add — more shepherds, camels, sheep, dogs, the three wise men, angels, and so forth. There were many choices, many displays and all eagerly picked over. Our crèche has survived all these years with children and grandchildren helping to pull them out of the box — unwrapping and ensuring that each went on the right place on the mantel. Unwrapping baby Jesus was always special. We would place the beggar next to the stable close to the wise men — put the angel on the stable top — make sure the camel leader had his switch and the dogs were on duty guarding the sheep.
There was never any deviation — shepherds to the left with their dogs and sheep — wise men to the right with camels and driver. The cow and the donkey had their own space in the stable with hay spread there and often on the floor. Most years there has been a child or an adult child to help unwrap and display the crèche.
Often after New Year’s Day, I wrap and put away each figure until next year. Each time I do this, I think of all the years we have had together, and as tired as I may be after the holidays, when I wrap up each piece carefully, put it in the box marked “crèche,” and seal the box up, I count my blessings.
This year I thought it would be lovely to have a great display of greens, candles, and fruit like pomegranates and oranges and lemons with bayberries or holly and bittersweet with garlands of cones — but I know I will once again put up the crèche on the mantel and count my blessings.
The above was read at the annual Christmas Eve Farina Family gathering in 1994 at the Butler residence.