Today we were going to be setting up the Christmas tree and putting the lights on. I had given some thought to how I wanted to do some of the decorating. I don’t know how much sense it makes but I wanted to deliberately do something different. Even though we didn’t have either of these babies for a Christmas with us, I had mentally worked them in and felt the need to change things around so I wasn’t thinking so much about how they weren’t here with us. You may remember the mantle I did last year. I suddenly thought about those village pieces and remembered that we had one already. What if I got a few more and did a little village on the mantle? Father said to go back to the store and get them. They were only a few dollars each anyway.
This afternoon I went back to the thrift store. I immediately picked up two buildings that appeared to be in working order. After glancing around I realized that the staff had put out a lot more Christmas stuff since Tuesday. I decided to have a look around. I found two old-fashioned china St. Nicholas figures and put them with the houses. Then I saw it.
A few rows over I saw the back of a stable. It looked just like the one we had when I was growing up. I held my breath and walked around to the other side. It was. It was almost exactly like the nativity stable I remembered. I was just beginning to be sorry there were no figures when my eyes caught sight of a small, decrepit cardboard box next to the stable. I looked inside. Wrapped in fragile brown paper were the figures. I carefully picked through them and realized the whole set was there. And they looked just like the ones we had growing up. I checked the price. Four dollars. I nearly cried right there in the store.
I got it, of course. I brought it home and showed Father. We both thought it was a Fontanini set – the base of each piece said “Italy”. Father checked online and it is indeed a Fontanini, probably from the 1960’s. How it got into the thrift store I’ll never know. They had just put it out and the woman said she hadn’t even looked through the box to see if all the pieces were there.
I’ve wanted one of these for years. We priced them last year but they start at at least $100. The overwhelming feeling I had, standing in the store (irrational or not) was that this was the babies’ Christmas present to me. I wept when I got home and put all the pieces out. The only thing I had wanted for Christmas this year I couldn’t have. But they gave me a Nativity scene.