The Battered Box

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The battered box.
The box says JC Higgins Ice Skates. I can only assume at one point these skates were a Christmas gift to my mom long ago.
In my lifetime this old box, repaired numerous times with tape represents much more than winter days skating at the park. This old box is the home of “Nana’s Manger”.
The handmade manger, made by my Uncle Clarence as a young boy in school, still bears the marks of his pen, as he made many attempts to cut the pattern. I have reglued it several times over the years.
The box itself, contains the nativity set. Mary, Joseph, animals, shepherds, kings and angels. And of course baby Jesus laying in his cradle. They are post war paper mache pieces from Italy and Germany.
Many of the pieces have been mended over the years. Balthazar is missing his tummy, Gabriel has a taped wing. (I did that when I was 7, hoping Nana wouldn’t notice). The sheep have 2 legs each. The manger straw is from 1951. And I finally threw out the nicotine stained snow that covered the top of the manager two years ago. Because really there was no snow in Bethlehem.
This manger represents to me, the magic of Christmas. A tiny little girl carefully moving the pieces around as the various visitors came to visit the baby Jesus. A preteen helping her grandmother set up for Christmas. A college girl coming home for Christmas to find Nana had it set up for me. Always on the front I closed porch, under a tiny tree.
My sons have seen me set it up every year. I have downsized my Christmas displays over the years, but the battered box comes out every year without fail.
Make traditions. Keep traditions. The smallest gestures bring comfort and memories. All of these can be stored, in a battered box.
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