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Paula Coston carols, ‘Away with the manger’

December 13, 2013

Moose nativity scene found by Mark Ostereicher, 'Huffington Post', July 2013

Moose nativity scene found by Mark Ostereicher, ‘Huffington Post’, July 2013

Rubber duck Christmas, also found by Mark Ostereicher

Rubber duck Christmas, also found by Mark Ostereicher

Although I’m childless-by-circumstance, I don’t want to be all ‘Bah humbug’ about Christmas, I really don’t. I don’t want to rain on the parade of the many who, at this time of year, are consumed not only by the adoration of a baby but by the Adoration of Baby, the fetishisation of motherhood. Nor do I want to ban the congregation of the young, overexcited and effervescent, around the older among my family and friends – including the older childless ones, like me.

But in this post, let’s bring a bit of fun to, and positivity outside of, all that blinkered, child-centred razzamatazz. Mark Ostereicher’s finds of nativity scenes other than humanoid are a good start. If these were presented to the baby-besotted, mightn’t some of those people be tickled into taking a long, hard look at themselves, into revising their eensy-teensy-human-worshipping world view? (There are more scenes: go to his website.)

On a more serious note, forget those boring old Bible accounts of Mary-Jesus-and-Joseph-in-a-stable: there’s a very different Biblical passage that I love.

‘”Sing, O barren one, who did not bear; break forth into singing and cry aloud, you who have not been in labour! For the children of the desolate one will be more than the children of her who is married,” says the Lord.

‘”Enlarge the place of your tent, and let the curtains of your habitations be stretched out; do not hold back; lengthen your cords and strengthen your stakes. For you will spread abroad to the right and to the left, and your offspring will possess the nations and will people the desolate cities.

‘”Fear not, for you will not be ashamed; be not confounded, for you will not be disgraced….”‘ (Isaiah 54:1-17)

I find that beautiful and uplifting, a celebration of the childless sisterhood.

Finally I offer this humble attempt at a new rendition of a well-known carol that I’ve always found rather tedious.

‘Away with the manger,
Soft crib and small bed:
For the lass without children,
Hopes of baby are dead.
The scars of her history
She is holding at bay,
Proud that she is still standing,
Fighting on day by day.’

I dedicate this piece to Christina Rossetti, who wrote the lovely carol In the Bleak Midwinter. Single and childless to her death, her great writing accomplishments weren’t at all impeded by her status.

Happy Christmas, all.

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