Story 11: In the basement

The Crèche exhibit was spectacular. People reverently wandered down the aisles admiring the vast collection of delicately created manger scenes. Crèches created from Israeli woodcarvings to the islands of Polynesia and every other type of material you could think of in between. There were stuffed ones, hanging ones, cookie ones, glass ones, sequenced ones, huge ones, ones so tiny you needed a magnifying glass to look. Twinkly Lights were strung over the array of fabrics draped over the display tables. Soft music played in the background.

And I was in the basement. As elegant as it was upstairs, I had the very best spot. I had spent many nights in my own basement asked to paint a simple manger scene that was child size. The idea was for people to dress up and get their photos taken inside the scene. If you wanted to be the Mary, you could take the Mary out and you would be in a set manger scene. If you had a group you could put the entire group in. I made costumes and props. There was a spot light placed on it. The light created a soft glow on the baby Jesus while the shadows and sparkles of the cardboard characters stood and looked. It was magical.

But the mood was not always how I wished. It would get hectic as families, teenagers, and some grandparents would come to dress up and get inside the manger scene to have their photos taken. 

On the first evening an older woman came down to the basement and watched for a time. I talked to her briefly, but only to ask if she wanted to participate. She said no; watched a little longer then left.

The last evening she came back to the basement. When there was a break in the crowd she handed me a tissue wrapped gift. I asked her what this was for and that I could not accept a gift. She said that she wanted to give me something because she loved this part of the exhibit best. And then she left. I was happy she liked it but was surprised after helping with the display of hundreds upstairs that this one was the one that spoke to her.

When the last group had gone and I finished folding the costumes for the night, then I opened the gift. Inside her gift was a package of instant microwave popcorn. 

Simple Christmas…

Holy Christmas…

That is what it was…

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