Monday, 19 December 2011

Nativity no 4

When my mother died in 2009 she left a list of beneficiaries and items to be distributed in the event of her death. She'd written it two years before on blue lined paper and in a multitude of  blue and black biros.

My younger sister and I were vying for the vacuum cleaner. It was a quiet top model Electrolux. We were dissapointed mum hadn't included it in the list to save us beating each other over the head with the rolling pin that we also each had dibs on.

What was on the list was beautiful unvaluable and invaluable things.

She left this nativity to me.

From as early as I can remember it came out every Christmas from the hall cupboard to sit in it's 'stable' - a gutted television cabinet shrouded with tinsel. An angel with real feathers sat on top. Among the animals in the stable was a ceramic cow that my grandmother had given me and that once carried salt and pepper shakers. Every year the stable had pride of place in the lounge room on the hearth in front of the fireplace. Mum's children grew into teenagers, left home and returned with their own children for Christmas Day lunch and each year the Nativity would be taken out to do it's thing.

When gift giving was at it's height in our family and everyone was giving to everyone else you could hardly see the tree for the presents. We were more than a dozen and spanned three generations. Twelve lots of twelve are a hundred and forty four right? that's a lot of wrapping paper.

My father died, more grandchildren were born and my mother had 24 years of being alone at the head of our family. Over this time we reduced gift giving to 'immediate family' and mum. We started to stay at our own home, 8 hours drive away, every other Christmas. Hosting the extended family get together was shared amongst the three daughters with large enough houses to fit us in.

The last time we all got together was the Christmas before mum died. There were 21 of us.

Edit: Oh and my sister got the vacuum cleaner and the rolling pin.


  1. What does the nativity scene mean to you now? That is in your new home. Home do your sons and husband respond to it?

    1. It means so much more than it did before, but not in a religious sense.
      I don't even know if the boys noticed it was present in our home this Christmas.


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