Monday, December 08, 2008

Living Nativity???

We've lived in our San Jose home since 1997, and each Christmas since we moved here, I've driven past a sign on Hillsdale Avenue that reads "Drive Through Living Nativity". Every time I drove by that sign I imagined a bunch of strange, intensely religious individuals, having recruited somebody's newborn baby as a prop, huddled in robes around a makeshift manger in their front yard. Perhaps a Doberman sporting cow horns and a pug dog in sheep's clothing might accompany their vigil. With that intriguing vision in mind, I cannot explain to you why it has taken until last Thursday night for me to actually visit the living nativity.

Determined to finally get a glimpse of this oddity, I tried to persuade Steve and the kids to join me. Since Steve had plans to go out for a bite to eat with coworkers and the boys were involved in a heated game of living room hockey, I set out alone. Undaunted, I followed the signs pointing to the nativity. Upon seeing a bearded man directing traffic into a church parking lot, the truth was revealed. This annual event was not a strange front-yard phenomenon, instead it was an event put on by a church. The Foxworthy Baptist Church to be exact, and this is actually a 15-year tradition. I turned into the church parking lot where I was handed a CD that narrated the seven scenes depicting the birth, crucifixion and resurrection of the savior. As promised, each scene was populated by living people and animals. These included a donkey*, a sheep, three wise men, and a freshly arisen Christ in flowing white robes played by an awkward teenage boy who was clearly suffering under the scrutiny of the passing cars.

After the final scene had been narrated, and Jesus politely waved me on I turned in my CD and in exchange was handed an candy cane. Attached was a fascinating little note explaining the origin of this traditional Christmas goody. Apparently a candy maker fashioned it into a shape which when held upright resembles a shepherd's staff, or when turned upside down, makes the letter J for Jesus. The stripes on the candy cane represent the prophet Isaiah's words, "by his stripes we are healed" which refer to the wounds Jesus received on the cross. Even the white stripes on the candy cane have meaning, symbolizing purity. The living nativity is free (although I elected to give a small donation for their efforts) and takes about 15 minutes to drive through. While it lacked the campy feeling of my original vision, it was still a nice presentation and, particularly if you celebrate Christmas as a religious holiday, worth the trip.

*I was instructed to turn my headlights off as they "scare the donkey".


Julia said...

Those f***ing donkeys always cause trouble now don't they.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, can't let that urban legend about candy canes go unnoted.

I For One..... said...

Doh! I've been Snopesed! Beaten at my own game. If that information had come to be via an email, I'd have been all over Snopes with it, but because it came in the format of a cute little attachment to a sweet treat, my better judgment was clouded. Thanks for catching that.

Meredith said...

Maybe I will bring the kids to visit the living nativity..........oh wait no maybe I won't! I vision my kids laughing and giggling and cracking jokes the whole time.