(The flamingo picture on the left came from the fine folks over at Big Head Studio. I appreciate them letting me use their photo.) I'm not one who's into yard decorations. Pink flamingos, the garden gnome (little bastard is constantly hawking that Travelocity crap. He never shuts up!), etc. But some people are and that's fine. What's not fine is when you have, say, a nativity scene (for those of you having lunch with Satan right now, that would involve a Joseph, a Mary, no more than three men (must be wise) and a baby named Jesus. It must be a "baby Jesus". It can't just be A Jesus. It's can't be just "Jesus". It must be "baby Jesus". Oh, and that must be said as if it is one word. BabyJesus. American folklore at it's finest right here.) and part of that nativity scene is stolen. (Do I have to tell you it was the BabyJesus that was ripped off? I didn't think so.) Then you have quite a dilemma on your hands. Do you:
- a) Give up on the whole nativity scene idea altogether, pack it up and store it in the shed,
- b) Have the garden gnome be BabyJesus
- c) Have your son be BabyJesus
If you answered "c, have your son be BabyJesus", not only are you a moron, you're correct!
Let's go back. Back to a time when the nativity scene of Tricia Hoffman over yonder in West Des Moines, Iowa, was complete. A time which is sometimes known as January, 2002. It was then that Tricia last saw her BabyJesus. Abducted by Satan, some would say. Abducted by the Nazis, others would say (but that was only after a BabyJesus with a swastika painted on it's belly turned up in a different yard a little while later. But the "two" Jesuses (Jesi?) were never thought of being related in some way and the Nazis were off the hook yet again!).
After seven months, the trail of BabyJesus had grown cold. Not as cold as January, where the temperature in Iowa constantly hovers around 20 degrees, but still cold. Tricia was faced with a dilemma "We were going to buy a whole other manger scene because you can't just buy the baby Jesus. But who needs six kings, two Josephs and two Marys?" (Note to self: Get busy on that "individual nativity scene members" idea. Call Wal-Mart before noon.) Perhaps the FLDS folks might be interested in the twoMarys and a Joseph idea?
Well, apparently, Jesus & Co. are quite pricey in Iowa. It would have cost Tricia over a thousand bucks to buy another set. (That's like $160 per replicated religious icon. Huh. Who knew?) According to the fine folks over there at the Des Moines Register, being the innovative Iowan, Tricia, instead "used dolls or her son, Jack, now 10, as stand-ins for the last six years while Jesus was away from his manger." Wait. What?
According to Tricia, "Jack usually didn't last too long. It was hard to convince him to lie out there in the freezing cold." Ten year old Jack seems to be the brains behind this operation. Good for you, Jack! Way to stand your ground, buddy! Are you kidding me?
So the BabyJesus goes AWOL and this woman decides, "I know! I'll have my son stand in for Jesus! Oh, yes, the temperatures do get quite low, but I'll just remind him that he's doing it for Jesus and if he doesn't, he'll go straight to hell, no questions asked." Is that how it went? (Of course she didn't say that. At least, it's not reported anywhere. Purely speculation on my part. Jack's probably not going to hell. For that.)
Fortunately, Jack's intermittent stint as Jesus came to a screeching halt when the Police Department had an auction to clear out accumulated stuff that had been confiscated or turned in. (I'm not quite sure what good "confiscating" something does if you are then going to return it into public circulation via an auction, but that's just me.) When Tricia returned home from an overnight shift at the hospital where she works, her mother said to her, " I think your baby Jesus is on the front page of The Des Moines Register." And really, that's something you almost never hear.
So she went to the auction and there he was. BabyJesus! The cops retrieved BabyJesus, checked some old police reports, figured out it was the one and the same that had been pilfered from the front yard manger six years ago AND the same one that had the swastika painted on his belly in the other yard (so the Nazis WERE responsible in some way! I knew it!). They then returned BabyJesus to Tricia, the rightful owner and overseer of the statuesque icon representing the son of God.
I still can't get the image of poor Jack, BabyJesus's understudy, out there in the nativity scene in his front yard in the middle of December in Iowa. I can only imagine the comments from the passer bys. "Mommy, why is BabyJesus shivering?" "Mommy, why is BabyJesus wearing that parka?" "I don't remember the Bible saying anything about BabyJesus having a Nintendo DS."