Thursday, December 09, 2004
Manger scene with cotton balls
That's a really odd thing to say. It's not a particularly special picture, but there's a reason.
Every christmas, my Great Aunt used to put a manger scene in her front window in Canterbury. The dolls she used were homemade, and obviously old - something about the way their faces were drawn on just screamed 1920s. There were always the three wise men, the shepherds, the whole mullarkey. All were decorated with amazing scraps of material, probably leftovers from my Great Grandmother's fancy dress business.
The tableau would be arranged in front of a large piece of dark blue silk, with fairylights hung over all to make it look like stars. The whole thing had a slightly tatty but old-fashioned charm.
I always took it for granted until one day I was on my way to a pub with an art college tutor, and a bunch of friends. The tutor stopped dead in front of Auntie Muriel's window, looked at the dolls, and said 'I love this house. I always feel like it's properly christmas when they put up their nativity. It's such a wonderful thing.'
I felt so proud when I could say - 'Yes, it's my Great Aunt's house'.
That's why I'm sad. I don't think it'll be there this year, as her son and daughter probably don't have the heart for it.
Laurence, if you read this, and you both decide you don't want to do the nativity any more... it's the one thing that I'd really appreciate inheriting. But only if it's time for it to go.