Saturday, February 22, 2020

Creature Feature

What an enormous response!  No, I don’t mean the national attention I got from what I wrote here last week; I mean to the new nativity scene and the opportunity to provide the parish with a full array of figures for the coming century.  Since the new set is carved wood, it should easily last a hundred years, unlike the old figures that were cast plaster and simply started to disintegrate after their first several decades.  
Last month, I shared a photo of the dog that I got because Nancy McNally offered, and one of the three kings (Caspar), and the angel I got in hopes that someone would “adopt” them.  Well, Mike McCartin rushed in to cover Caspar, and his dad, Joe, provided what we needed for the angel.  That’s terrific, since the McCartins have been part of the parish almost as long as the previous nativity figures.
But then the offers kept coming.  So, Anamaris Poley and Beth Staley are going to make sure that Caspar won’t be alone, but next Epiphany will have Balthasar and Melchior with him:  all three kings!
As the television advertisements say, but wait – there’s more.  Mercedes Flores and Gail Poulos both want to help, too.  Just because the kings already are coming does not mean that there is no more room at the inn, um, I mean, in the stable.  No, there is an array of creatures and characters that is available for our particular nativity set.  It is from Italy, remember, and the Italians love to have extended scenes around their bambinelli – the baby Jesus in their cribs.  
So, what I am going to do is contact Enrico.  Enrico is my “statue man” in Rome; his shop is just a few blocks from where I used to live, just outside the Vatican’s Saint Ann Gate.  He has been helping me with this and that for years, and when I showed up at his desk in January he knew exactly in which nativity set I was interested; he even remembered where my parish was.  So anyway, I am going to call Enrico.
He will provide quotes on several figures that are available for our set, in our size.  I know there is the possibility of a camel, but it’s expensive; ironically enough, more than twice the price of a single king!  But there are others, too.  There is a shepherd kneeling with a sheep that I wanted but was not available last fall; there’s a junior angel, a woman with a water jug, a young girl, and a boy; there are more sheep, plus goats, and a rooster I have my eye on (foreshadowing the Passion!).  Carol in the rectory here is hoping she can help us get a rabbit.  It’s possible.
Enrico can pull the information together and send me a current quote and a shipping estimate.  I know he can, because he did it for something else I asked about – new figures for our outdoor creche.  

The old outdoor ones are plaster too, and about to fall apart.  The new ones he showed me made of weather-resistant, fade-proof, chip-proof fiberglass, and bigger – about fifty percent again bigger than our new indoor wooden set; Joseph would be three feet tall.  Bigger figures would mean fewer figures, so all we would get would be Jesus, Mary, Joseph, and the obligatory ox and ass.  I have an estimate for that.
So, if you are interested in contributing to the population of our nativity scene, send an email to the rectory saying so, and we will respond in a week or two with some options from which you can choose.  If you have mentioned it to me that you were interested, but have not yet emailed, please follow up with the note so that I don’t lose track of your intentions.
It is a great time to do this, because the exchange rate is fantastic – the best I have seen since 2002, the year the Euro was introduced.  Thank you for your response. 
Monsignor Smith