Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas Traditions

Jason gasped and clapped his hands together, "I have an idea!"  We were walking back to the car after seeing the play on Christmas Eve, and I had been wondering what we should do for the rest of the night.

"Excellent!" I responded, "Do tell."

"We go home and read scriptures to be spiritual..." he began. I was already nodding in agreement. One of my family's traditions is reading from Nephi and Luke just before bedtime on Christmas Eve, each taking a verse at a time. I love that we have a dedicated time for a quiet act of spiritual worship that's not muddled with gift-giving or social festivities. I love those parts of Christmas too, but the scripture reading has always been a strong moment of family faith that I appreciate and look forward to. In fact, I had planned on suggesting the same idea as a closure to the evening, and I was glad to hear that Jason apparently has the same tradition in his family.

"... and then dress up and stage the Nativity scene with the cat as Baby Jesus!"

So apparently we share more Christmas family traditions than I thought, although that particular one hasn't made an appearance in our household since... Los Angeles? Maybe the early years of the second go-around in Denver? And while I do have vivid Christmas memories of donning the veils my parents brought back from Turkey and doing the Nativity scene with the Kings in Germany, the idea of doing it tonight had never crossed my mind.

I laughed and immediately agreed. In fact I was already mentally scanning my closet for costumes. We lamented our lack of ownership of a good SLR camera (something we would continue to do through the night) and discussed inspirational artwork/film directors for our soon-to-be masterpiece, as well as other family traditions for this holiday as we drove home in the snow.

First order of business: cook a frozen pizza for Dinner #2.
Christmas Eve
Even his beverage is festive!
While the pizza cooked, I pulled out a box of decorations.  I actually hadn't decorated at all for the holiday.  December was typically busy, and since I didn't know for certain that I was going to have a house guest until the last minute, decorating took a backseat to other preparations.  Jason assured me that he didn't mind, but I just couldn't stand the thought of a Christmas Eve without at least a few wooden scenes from Rothenburg.

While we ate dinner on set, Jason described his vision of the project while casting the various supporting roles.  Once we cleaned up the table, I went in search of a virginal ensemble while Jason went in search of wise men.  Jason pointed out, not for the first time, that I really should own a proper Gothic heroine's white nightgown.  In fact, there have been many times in our storied friendship when the moment would have been much improved by a proper Gothic heroine's white nightgown.  This probably comes as no surprise.

I was about to don a long white t-shirt when I suddenly remembered my Buddhist whites.  Much more flow-y and good enough!  I returned to the dining room in costume and discovered that Jason had recruited many of my travel souvenirs to appear in our production.  We were going to have Wise Men (with a traditional 2:1 ratio of ethnicity), Wise Gifts, an Asian elephant, two shepherdesses (one Russian and one Mexican), a Cuban sheepcat, a flock of miniature llamas, and a wooden dove flying above the table as the star/angel/Holy Spirit.

Nativity Scene
Nativity Scene

What I lacked in damsel-wear I make up for in scarves.  I found a Saint Mary-blue one for myself and offered Jason the choice of several colors for his own outfit.  He had already picked out my blue-and-white-striped bathrobe to put on over his bowtie-and-sweater combination and quickly pulled up his desert trek post for a refresher on how to tie my Moroccan scarf a la Said. 

We were both in costume so it was time to swaddle the Baby Jesus.  I chased down Natasha.  Normally she's game for some laptime anytime, but the amount of bustle and the giant red scarf in my hand raised her suspicions and I had to corner her in the piano room.  Doing my best to swaddle on the go, I carried her to our place in my grandfather's captain's chair in front of the bookcase while Jason set up my camera on our makeshift tripod of dining chair, cardboard box, and book.

Nativity Scene
This holy infant is not so tender and mild.

Then it was yellowish lights, malfunctioning camera, action!

We took several pictures, trying out a range of poses.  Jason tried to figure out the settings on my little point-and-shoot camera while I tried to keep the cat calm and swaddled.  You saw my favorite of the lot in our posts last night, but here's a sample of the rejects:

Nativity Scene
The Holy Family Sears Portrait,

Nativity Scene
The More Classical Pose,
Nativity Scene
The Classical Pose with a Less Happy Baby Jesus,
Nativity Scene
The Zombie Jesus,

Nativity Scene
and The Would-Be-My-Favorite-If-It-Wasn't-So-Blurry.

We were just starting to figure out the right framing and positioning when my camera stopped working, the cat started moaning, and we realized that we had reached the point where we either call it good or work on it obsessively for another three hours.  We turned Natasha loose after taking a few more pictures, including some father/son shots that were pretty entertaining until Joseph's allergies to the Baby Jesus were more than he could tolerate.  But I'll let Jason show you those.

We struck the set, changed into pajamas, and did some quick blogging before turning to the scriptures on his iPhone and my iPad.  Then, per tradition, we took turns reading verses in front of the fireplace, bade each other good night, and turned in while the snow continued to fall quietly outside.

Christmas Eve
It's pretty, even without a Zombie Jesus Cat

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