The Christmas Manger

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Creche set that brought so much joy has a new home.
Créche set that brought so much joy has a new home.

Christmas. It’s my favorite time of the year. I love the lights, Christmas carolers, hallmark movies, baking, food, cheery cocktails with eggnog, getting together with family and friends. I also love the joy of giving. I am finding more and more that the older I get I really don’t want anything but friendships and making new friends. Giving, and watching someone receive a carefully thougcarol 3ht-out gift, is most fun.

I love this holiday the best, and I have a Christmas room to prove it. I always wanted a tree up year round. With the passing of my husband Bob, I decided to take over his man cave. Today I boast that I don’t have to put up a tree, ever again. I now have Christmas up year round. The walls are red and it’s stuffed with photos of memories from the past.

So many things come to mind from the past.

As a child, my best memory of our Christmases growing up is that bird cooking. We did our Christmas right at midnight on Christmas Eve. We had to go to bed early and enjoy that wonderful smell of a roasting turkey. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on some. When midnight tolled the first thing I did was run for the turkey. How delicious it tasted. Then, I would run off to see if Santa brought me the Easy Bake Oven I had wished for. We sang for gifts – or at least, we tried. I brought that tradition over to our own children, and nieces and nephews. How many videos I have of the kids singing for their Christmas gifts.

As an adult about 25 years ago, another favorite memory comes to mind. I was out shopping with my husband. On the way out the door we saw one manger set, and it was huge and pricey. Oh, how Mother Mary and Joseph looked over baby Jesus, and the three wise men also looking on. There were animals, also. It had a cow, donkey, camel, lamb.  I had to have it, I told Bob. I wanted it. I will put it on my card and work hard to get it paid off. Bob was easy. Anything to please his wife. That was the beginning of a tradition. It started with the manger set, outside shining, and from there, the yard kept sprouting up new pieces every year ’til there was no more room. There were angels, moving reindeer, Santas with big bags of toys, lit trees, red bows –  every window was illuminated fully with lights. The porch and the fence were lit.

In some funny way, I think Bob started liking this lights stuff. He seemed to be adding to it every year and it all started with the one manger set. He even made a wooden home to put them in. We decorated it with a star and lights and hanging green garland. The lights stayed on till I came home from second shift so I could see the beauty, also. I think my babe was hooked. It was fun watching cars pull up on a busy street just to take pictures of this manger set. They all said they haden’t seen anything like it. In all my years I haven’t either. No wonder it was pricey!

Time has passed and things changed. My husband went off to heaven to be the brightest star, ever. The wise men sat for five years in the cellar, collecting dust. I knew someone out there would appreciate this set, if only I could let it go.  This year I made up my mind and brought all the pieces up from the cellar and washed them all down. If I was going to sell it, it had to be presentable. A yard sale was in the making once again. After a few hours a man and a woman named Mike and Mary came by. (Mary, what a beautiful name.) All I could hear from Mike’s lips was a gasp, “Oh my God! I have been looking for something like this for a few years now.” I sensed his excitement and I knew that finally the right ones had come along.

That voice of excitement reminded me of myself when I first saw the manger set in the store. Immediately I dropped the price by $25. I knew they had to have it. They did buy it, and I helped them load it up. “Where do you live?,” I asked. “I’d like to see it when it’s all up again.” To my amazement, they live right around the corner from me, way up the street. How wonderful that I can go visit this manger set and it’s only walking distance from my home.

It was meant to be.

The photo is one I took where the set now sits, in all its glory. “The simple things bring simple joy,” and Santa brought me new friendships. As I write this I tear up and even cry good happy tears. Another tradition has started, and now I am the one stopping to take the photos of a beautiful manger set.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

carol-2Gail Durant is the fourth-oldest from a family of 13 children. She has lived in Manchester her whole life with the exception of one year in Hillsboro. She worked for 41 years in shoe shops, laundry and manufacturing and fully retired five years ago. She lost her husband Bob almost three years ago to brain cancer, and is currently writing a book about their love story, Bob’s diagnosis, and the signs she receives from him, to this day. Proceeds from the book will go to charities to help children in some way and also for brain cancer research.  She resides in Manchester with her dog, Miss Spirit (short for Christmas Spirit) and has a daughter she adopted a few years ago, who came into her life at age 7 and is now 40. She has enjoyed photography most of her life, and loves taking random shots, and spinning the thoughts she has into stories, with pictures.

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About this Author

Carol Robidoux

PublisherManchester Ink Link

Longtime NH journalist and publisher of Loves R&B, German beer, and the Queen City!