Thursday, May 05, 2005

How we lost Mary's thumb

Ulrich creche
Originally uploaded by jacquichris.

As Mom has survived her last surgery, it feels like a celebration is in order. There will be time later to fill in the details of the last few days. So, instead, I have decided to tell you the story of Mary's thumb.

In our house, in the dining room, there is an alcove. It is a recessed area with glass shelves thick like cuts of bacon. There is a light at the top that shines down to illuminate the top shelf and filter through to the lower shelves. On the shelves, a variety of special memorabilia is displayed throughout the year. At Christmas time, all is swept away to make room for creches. All, that is, except for the very special Bernardi Ulrich creche that is kept front and center year round.

This past year, Mom hadn't had time to decorate before I arrived. We decorated together in a flurry for a small Christmas soiree. The house was so very lovely that we decided to start the evening by candlelight. Unfortunately, the candles did not cast as strong a glow in the alcove and most of the creches were bathed in shadow. Especially unacceptable for the Ulrich creche.

The candles were my idea. Just so blame is established upfront.

The first pair of candlesticks were placed on the topmost shelf. But there was still not enough light.

A third candle was placed on the lowest shelf so that light would filter up from below onto the Ulrich set. The wick was trimmed and the shelf above was checked for heat. Everything was fine.

With decorating completed, Mom and I set down to enjoy a quiet moment of gloating. The house was stunning. Just stunning. Then, ten minutes before the first guests were expected, there was a deafening explosion. A sound not dissimilar to a car bomb.

A moment of absolute stillness. Then we turned to stare dumbfounded at the remarkable dishevelment.

A shelf had indeed exploded but it was the one on which the candle had been resting. The other shelves all fell secondary to the force of the initial blast. Everywhere the eye turned there were shattered remains of wise men and angels.

As we collected the remains of the creches and swept up the glass shards, we could not stop laughing. Guests were expected any moment and the integrity of the Ulrich creche remained to be determined but there was something terribly humorous about the detritus.

Amusement was particularly derived from one cheap Mexican creche. The blast decapitated all of the wise men: 'Heads indeed will roll.' The angels all lost their wings, poor Clarence would have been devastated. But Mary, Joseph and the little baby Jesus emerged unscathed.

There was apparently something aerodynamically special about the baby Jesi, something that provided them an unfair advantage with regard to loft. The baby from the above described set was found just outside the bathroom, in the hall around a corner.

Our fears lessened as the Ulrich stable was separated from the flotsom. The little lamb, respective wise man, Joseph and Mary all appeared intact. The creche itself lost a leg but no compromise could be detected when the pieces were realigned. It was only after we finished sifting the swept debris, rearranged the shelves and began replacing the surviving pieces that we discovered the baby Jesus, I mean the baby Jesus was missing. We crawled throughout the house, combed and recombed the bags of shattered glass but the lovely baby Jesus was nowhere to be found.

How could we lose him? Its not that big a house and we don't own that much stuff.

This of course brought to mind an excellent joke about a boy, a bike, Santa Claus and Jesus' mother...

Finally, after many tense moments, we located the baby Jesus. He had managed to make his way around the corner into the family room, across to the far wall, apparently rebounded off of the steps leading into the room from the patio and came to rest under the ricketty television cart.

We were suitably impressed as we hope you are.

By this time, the leg on his creche was adequately mended and we were able to return the little baby to his manger. The manger was gently placed inside the stable on the now repositioned shelf and Joseph returned to his side. Finally, Mary was placed on the right and turned just slightly so she could gaze lovingly at her child. It was at this point that the sands began shifting. There was something off about Mary.

It wasn't something one could easily identify. She just didn't seem right.


But what was wrong? Was it paranoia on my part?

I removed Mary and took her into the living room where there was better light.


Mary had lost her thumb. Mind you, Mary's thumb was a mere millimeter in length. But it had been there outstretched like her other fingers toward this most precious gift from God, her child. Now not so much. Okay. Now not at all.

We combed the house. Every inch in the dining room, every inch of the alcove, the landing inside the vent, the hallway outside the bathroom, each bag of creche remnants. No thumb.

This led to a great conflict for Roland had purchased this immaculate creche for Mom as a present. And, as you will recall, Roland wasn't home yet.

Do we tell him and risk letting him down? Or do we count on his abstract personality and maintain silence?

We opted for silence.

A pact between conspirators.

It was at this moment that the first guests arrive. They were about 30 minutes late. Remarkable given their ETA was based on our knowledge of their location en route at the time of their call. Almost a miracle that they were late, though not as impressive as our reconstruction of the dining and living rooms in less than 45 minutes.

The night was fabulous- a smashing success for everyone. There was caroling and fellowship and laughter.

We, of course, couldn't bear the blood on our hands and confessed to Roland 10 minutes after he arrived. He agreed it was unfortunate and immediately got over it.

And that is how we lost Mary's thumb.

Hope you have enjoyed the story. It continues to be a source of endless delight for us.


Blogger charlotte said...

what a cute and delightful story!! thank you for sharing it jacqui!!

mrs. schnell, we miss you SO very much at choir. i can't even explain how much we want you back. we're going to san francisco a MONTH from today!! i can't believe it has come so fast... but we agonize over not having you with us. we REALLY do. it's tough without your smiles and encouraging words every week. i really DO hope that you can maybe come to a couple rehearsals soon before tour.... and maybe even our concert on the 13th? it is such encouragement for us to see you right there. we want to sing to you!!! we miss you so dearly.... you mean so very much to all of us!!!!

love and hope from ALL of your girls-

10:58 PM  

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