Over the course of the past few days I have put our Lord and Saviour, the King of Kings, Wonderful Counselor, Emmanuel in tater tots, a burrito, and a meatball parm sub. Surely I’m going to hell for this almost Cromwellian disregard for icons.
Baby Jesus and I go way back. He is the main character in the only nativity scene I have ever known. These are not fancy priceless heirlooms; the older shepherd has a price of 88¢ written in wax crayon on his base. They are mismatched —the older shepherd and the headless camel clearly come from a more rustic set. My parents, therefore, saw no reason to keep me from playing with the nativity scene. Or as it was known by me: Adventure Team Manger.
It’s not like they could keep me away. I was starved for action figures. All mine sucked. I asked repeatedly for a GI Joe, but I got something called an Action Jackson. First of all, Action Jackson was two thirds the size of a classic Joe and lacked his flocked facial hair. Jackson was as smooth as a rent boy in Bratislava. My friends would announce the arrival of “Joe!” in practice deep voices. Try saying “Action Jackson” without lisping. Joe had all sort of camo and gear. Jackson had a singular blue jumpsuit and a parachute that came out of a hole in his back. The only way he could execute a proper jump was if he was stripped naked so his back-hole could properly function.
So you can see why plaster Magi were more enticing. Also, I was comfortable playing with Catholic iconography. Over my bed hung a large crucifix with a special compartment that contained all the supplies needed for Last Rites. The holy water contained within was an integral part of the fire safety brigade/death cult I had going on with my stuffed animals.
Christmas decorating was never complete until the manger came out. It couldn’t come out until the tree skirt was in place, which didn’t happen until the entire tree was decorated and plugged in. As soon as the front of the manger was folded down, the Magi, both shepherds, and the Blessed Parents went on adventures that took them all over the living room and sometimes into the dining room. Control Base Manger was manned by the animals because, as we all know, they “kept time.” Action Jackson was not invited.
How did they get to their adventures? They rode in the Baby Jesus. Baby Jesus fit perfectly in my small hands, and His flat bottom surface made zooming him along on the carpet a breeze. I would shrink the Magi and everyone down with the power of my mind, and they would crawl into the Baby Jesus. I would then drive Baby Jesus to the designated adventure coordinates. That I actually had to carry everyone over to the designated adventure coordinates in an off-season sand pail should not be noticed.
One day while Baby Jesus was racing against some Hot Wheels, I noticed that His underside was approximately the same width as a Hot Wheels. Then I set up my Hot Wheels track, the one with the loop-de-loop. I tried sending Him down by Himself, but he got three inches and fell off the track. But when He was rubber-banded to a Hot Wheels Batmobile, He could make it all the way down the track’s incline and halfway through the loop.
So, I think Baby Jesus will be just fine with a bunch of tater tots.