See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains. - James 5:7

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Cappa Magna

The above photo shows what is known as the cappa magna, a variation on trains usually worn by royalty. It remains a cermonial train worn by Cardinals, who happen to be princes of the Church. It is only worn at liturgical functions and posing for photographs. Few people realize that the modern term "drag" was inspired by such garments.

Xmas eticutt.


It's important.
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Yes it is people. So you better shape up for Christmas. I thought I would post some do's and don't's - bare bones advice.
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Always RSVP. Neither be too early or too late in your arrival - try to hit it on the dot - the host will always be prepared for the time indicated on the invitation. If it is open house, that is a different matter entirely - just don't show up too close to the end time.
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Stay at least an hour if it is a casual or cocktail type get together. If it is dinner, stay at least half an hour after dinner is over and dessert has been served. If you are enjoying yourself and the host seems to be enjoying you, stay as long as he or she wants - or until you have to use the bathroom, try not to do that at the host's house if it is a BM, especially if you have IBS. (In that case, I'd prefer you didn't come at all.)
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Do dress accordingly, or at least better than you would for church. (Cathy will get this one. LOL!)
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Do not wear a heavy scent - many hostesses use scented candles, incense, and/or those awful plug-in things - the addition of a heavy perfume or cologne just makes everyone want to throw up. Few people realize that the mixture of too many scents takes on the odor of diarrhea.
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Do acknowledge gifts or parties hosted by acquaintances or business associates, by sending a little thank you note. Never send thank you notes for cards - that is just pathetic.
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Do bring a hostess gift, good wine, expensive candy, out of season flowers, a Christmas tree covered in old world glass ornaments, or just anything you want to re-gift.
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Do not criticize other parties you have been to, what they served, or wore, or what the house was like, or how drunk they were, or who their friends are - this is a dead give-away that you will bitch about your present host after you leave.
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Don't criticize the host or other guests you are in the presence of, the food or entertainment, the favors or gifts, the host's decor and dress, while at the party - unless you go out for a smoke and your host and the others you are trashing can't hear you.
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Don't drink to excess... stage your drinks. I try to stay to one cocktail every 10 minutes. And never ask for the host's left-over-from-previous-surgery pain pills or Valium.
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Do not ask other guests who happen to be professionals, such as interior designers, hair stylists, cosmetic-surgeons, or psychologists, for serious advice or discounts while at the party. Ask for their business card and call for an appointment later. And never criticize their work if the subject comes up. I once asked a psychologist how he could help anyone when he's so nuts himself. People can be very touchy during the holidays.
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If uncomfortable subjects or questions arise at the dinner table, even if brought up by the host or hostess, give your warmest smile and say, "Oh, oh, I'm much too ill-informed to speak to that - at least that is what I always tell the curious ones." Laugh gaily and drink your wine. If asked again, just repeat your answer, over and over until they stop asking you.
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Do not ask questions you wouldn't answer yourself.
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Do not turn the plates over to see a manufacturer's stamp, and never ask the cost of anything, from table cloths to centerpieces to the cost of the house - you can get all that information on line after the visit.
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Never ask fat women if they are pregnant - or, in cases of single women whom you had heard were pregnant - but no longer are, never ask things like, "I heard you were pregnant, how is the baby?" I learned this the hard way!
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Never mention wigs - once, I attended a former co-worker's party. While we worked together, he had always cut his hair very short. When we met again, it appeared he had let it grow out. Just to tease him I said, "Nice wig." Shut my mouth - it was a hair weave.
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Carry on about their pets - no matter what the critters do - play with them, let them jump up on you, pretend you like them if you don't. Many people are offended if you say, "I don't like animals." or "Could you please make your dog stop that?" Pets are other people's kids. Oh, that reminds me - be nice to their human kids if they have any. And if you have kids, and the host does not, don't talk about your kids unless asked, and keep it short. Many childless people are childless for a reason, and they are not interested... Just like people without pets.
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I will try to add more helpful etiquette hints as we near Christmas and New Years, we will cover kisses and hugs and sexual advances.

Friday, December 12, 2008

So you don't believe in Santa?

Sinter Claes
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Luther tried to get rid of him - but I found this on a German website - I think it is on a public building or an apartment building - not a church. I'll present more proofs as time goes on. In the meantime... you better watch out.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Herberger's



Local people in Minnesota and environs: Boycott Herberger's! (I am just kidding!)
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I am really kidding, but what would compel me to even say such a thing? Why? What is so bad about Herberger's? To be honest, I really don't know what the store is like - never shopped there. My complaint - which I have communicated to them, has to do with the fact that they have absolutely the worst and most annoying Christmas television ads - ever. The campaign is so hokum, it defies description. The company's jingle is: "Give more, give joy!" Over and over and over, the extremely irritatingly bad lyrics are repeated, as are the ads - they air every 10 minutes at news time - it represents the lowest form of in your face consumerism and materialism, not to mention unabashed corporate greed.
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The runner up for worst television Christmas ad is Old Navy's "I want candy" - Why? Because once again corporate greed exploits a certain demographic of American youth who suffer from an ailment known as "gimme syndrome" - which if not for the recession, threatens to reach epidemic proportions. The ad sucks big time. These companies give commercial Christmas a bad name.
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It's a depression alright.

Advatages of growing up poor.



I've been kicked out of better places than this.

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Not long ago a very nice blogger-lady asked me how I could have gone to so many schools, or lived in so many neighborhoods in St. Paul. I answered, "We moved a lot." Truth be told, we were either kicked out because my parents fought too much, got blood on the stairs, smashed holes in the walls, made too much noise smashing whiskey bottles - don't ask, or they couldn't pay the rent, and things like that. LOL! I only mention this as a lead to my story: "I've been kicked out of better places than this."

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I'm used to it.

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I have discovered, quite by accident mind you, that I have been deleted from a few blogrolls. One very sweet lady informed me by email that she could no longer link to me because of the links in my sidebar and because I allow comments by known homosexuals and liberal minded Catholics (Gerald no longer blogs now days - he's not gay of course, just a dissenter.) Anyway, the lady said I was a scandal, as did one or two other bloggers. In fact, they delete my comments whenever I leave them on their blog-posts. Funny thing however, if I search their blog for my name, earlier posts they wrote with links to me, pop-up.

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Well, pray for me then - please! As one most in need of God's mercy. I realize how easily one's reputation can be tainted by the company one keeps, especially when one is in a certain profession, or a religious, or just climbing the ladder of success and trying to earn a reputation. Yet most assuredly I am not trying to promote sinful lifestyles, erroneous or heretical beliefs, much less dissent on either of my blogs, though I candidly deal with these issues as they appear frequently - even daily - in the news; and yes, I permit polite dissenting comments.
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Without trying to sound pious, or give the impression I am seeking approval, I want you to know I have been going to confession with greater frequency as well - last week twice, this week only once so far. So yeah, I'm trying really, really hard to be good and to please God. But trying to please people is just something I have never been much good at. My apologies.

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Season's greetings!

The art of Christmas cards: Part Two



Happy Holidays!

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Christmas cards are looked upon by many discerning individuals as a little gift - perhaps even a treasure. Some folks go to great pains searching for just the right card to send to people they like, but may not always see. In addition to funny cards - which are great to send to busy or depressed people to give them a little laugh - I like to send fine art cards on beautiful stock, or create cards of my own, taking time to paint or draw something from the heart. I consider all greetings as little acts of love, to demonstrate to others they are in my thoughts and prayers, and how much I wish we could take a nap together or something. (Figuratively speaking.)
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Sadly, many people seem to take holiday cards for granted, just sending them out of a sense of social obligation. "Look at the cheap card she sent, now I have to waste a stamp on her. Maryann never did have taste did she." Of course some folks count and measure their friends by the amount of cards they receive, or what they wrote, and so on. Very, very religious people actually complain if the card does not read, "Merry Christmas" or if it doesn't depict a pious 'seasonal' theme. (Hyper-holy people may not realize there are actually liturgical seasons in the Church; the Season of Advent, the Christmas season, and so on. Therefore the "Season's Greetings" thing kind of works out, huh. Not a question.)
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Oh yes Virginia, there really are cards out there that may simply depict birds on a snow laden branch that read, "Happy Holidays", or "Season's Greetings". These can be just as nice for older folks who enjoy watching re-runs of Lawrence Welk, as well as anyone without taste. Nevertheless, there are some goyim who have the audacity to complain that their friends or acquaintances did not send them a religious card inscribed with the words, "Merry Christmas". Imagine the ingratitude!
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Boorish people such as these are fortunate to get any season's greeting at all.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Poor Christmas: Making things.


Making things from scrap and Dresden trim.
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Dresden trim is made of embossed paper, gilded with metallic foil. This type of trim has been used as ornament in reliquaries from the 17th century, especially in Italy, although the Germans specialized in its production since the 18th century. Popular holiday uses include the application of trim on hen's eggs, or glass and papier-mache orbs to create Faberge-style ornaments; it has also been applied to garments worn by statues of saints, Neapolitan creche figures, or as embellishment upon Christmas cards and so on. Scrap is similar, again embossed paper figures depicting almost anything - from insects to people, buildings and flowers, but instead of the metallic finish, these are colorful. Uses for these materials in crafts is almost limitless.
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I have trouble finding these little treasures locally, although I have found several resources online. The best happens to be Blumchen's Dresden Trim Shop. Another very good resource is Victorian Scrap - their inventory appears to be a bit more extensive. The term "scrapbook" derives from this material. It was a popular hobby to collect scrap and arrange it in a book, with poetry, stories, and reminiscences.
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Image: A page of Dresden Santa's, the stamped, die-cut figures need to be cut and trimmed from the stock.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

The polite tradition of Christmas card greetings.




Part One: Who to send to, what to send, and what to write.


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It is appropriate to send cards to those we love, friends and relatives; as well as acquaintances we are fond of, business associates, and so on.


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Of course one must be sensitive to the recipient's taste. Now if you are the type who likes to send humorous cards or say something snappy in a serious card, there are some rules to follow. For example, with acquaintances, it is always good advice that if you can't think of anything funny to write, buy a funny card. I love funny cards, but not everyone may appreciate our sense of humor. Especially if one is sending to relatives.


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I speak from experience. Once I sent my late father a birthday card with a vintage photo of a 1950's era family on the cover and the caption read, "The Nelson's outside to view the full moon." The family was shown admiring a huge butt sticking out of the ground. When you opened the card it read, "Happy birthday!" I was sure dad would think it was funny, not simply because our surname was used, but because of the charming colloquialisms he enjoyed using when he was cross with me, or simply exasperated... Oh how I loved the way he would shout, "Your ass sucks buttermilk" or "You talk like you have a paper ass" after I said something he thought was stupid. That guy could really turn a phrase. Unfortunately he didn't make that connection, and as usual, he mistook my attempt at humor for sarcasm and asked my sister, "What the hell was that bastard trying to prove with that piece of s--t?"


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That said, cards for relatives should probably either be of the religious type or traditional images of Christmas houses magically lit in some snowy countryside - you know, of the Hallmark variety - with lovely sentiments composed by someone who probably writes personal horoscopes for a fashion magazine on the side. But read it carefully before selecting it, since the lovely sentiments can be taken the wrong way too. Case in point...


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Once I gave my mom a beautiful Hallmark card with script describing a wonderful mother and son relationship. She read it, turned it over to check the price, and looked at me and said, "What kind of dig is this?" So sometimes just a really pretty card with a simple signature in your very best handwriting is best for close relatives: "Love, your son, or your brother, or your sister, and then your proper name - no last names though". I found that usually worked out for the best.

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Look for more Christmas tips in the days leading up to the holidays.

Holiday etiquette.




'Tis the season for parties and visiting relatives.


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Now most of you are probably familiar with the sage advice: "If you can't say anything bitchy, don't say anything at all."


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No, no, no, Amy Winehouse. It is Christmas for crying out loud. No - this is what you need to remember: "If you can't say anything funny, don't say anything at all."


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Otherwise you may be invited back. (I know, this makes no sense.)

Christmas meme.



Superficial question: What are your favorite things at Christmas, and that kind of stuff?

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I get to go first! (I invented it.)

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1) What"s your favorite Christmas music - you can only name 3 different genre, style, songs, what have you:

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*Motown, Beach Boys, and Renaissance Christmas.
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2) Favorite Christmas Carol:

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*Angels we have heard, or whatever that title is.

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3) Favorite Christmas movie:

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*"Christmas Vacation" - what else!

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4) What makes you cry at Christmas?

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* Beautiful Italian Bambinos, and old people and young men or women kneeling and praying before the creche - oh, and little kids and babies at Mass - even if they are misbehaving, loud, crying or commanding attention.

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5) Do you have a real tree or an artificial tree?

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*Both.

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6) What is your favorite type of decoration?

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*Old World European traditional.

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6) What is your favorite Christmas Eve food?

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*Bacala - Italian breaded and fried cod. Angel hair pasta sauteed in olive oil with garlic, anchovies, and pine nuts - served with greens, while popping lupine, and stuffing down Italian bread.

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7) Favorite style of creche?

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*Authentic Neapolitan - I just cannot afford it. Once I had an antique shepherd which I sold in order to get money to pay medical bills - and that was when I had insurance.

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(8) Do you believe in Santa?

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*YES! He is St. Nicholas and is in disguise in modern times because of creepy people who can't tolerate any mention of saints. - some guy named Luther f-ed that up for kids.

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(9) Do you go to Church Christmas Eve or Christmas morning? And the same question can be applied to when you open gifts.

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* I once went to church on both days, now I usually go to the earliest Mass on Christmas morning.

* When I did gifts, it was always after Mass on Christmas Eve.

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10) What do you think of commercial Christmas?

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* Thanks for asking. First off - many people today would never even know it was Christmas without the ads, the movies, the programs on TV, despite the fact that most of the people who work in these industries turn to alcohol to cope - while feeling more holiday-ish, even though they are on thee verge of a nervous breakdown from constant replay of bad Christmas music and mandated "Happy Holidays!" while uttering "Bitch" under their breath. Yep - and then, thank God that even with pagans and secularists, they too keep the Christmas spirit alive for many. many people. Though they bitch about the holiday and public displays, even the biggest air-head on the planet has to wonder what all the fuss is about - and wow! They investigate the matter and realize that Christmas is really all about the birth of Christ. So yeah. I like commercial Christmas. No one does it like NYC either.

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11) What is your favorite Christmas memory? (This has been asked in other meme but for me it can change from moment to moment... So don't ask again.)

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*When I was in high school and visited my friend's houses on Christmas Eve - I made the trip after my family was safely passed out, and my little brother was asleep. All of my friends were Italian and we would go to midnight Mass and return to one of their houses - usually Linda's. This is how I found out about my favorite foods, and we got to drink home-made vino, and we listened to Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra. Then we went downstairs with our own bottle of wine and listened to Motown, the Beach Boys, and believe it or not, more Dean Martin and Sinatra when Linda's dad came down to drink with us.

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12) When do you consider the holidays are over? (Take down decorations and stuff?)

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* Easy - the day after 12th Night, or Epiphany (not liturgical Epiphany).

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That is it folks - my own meme. Do it if you are so inclined. Does ANYONE ever read this blog? Whatever. Happy Christmas!

Monday, December 08, 2008

Poor Christmas: Working without pay...


To be or not to be...



Is he or isn't he?
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That's the big question. About who? Obama. I know - everyone thought it was settled during the presidential campaign - a judge threw the first lawsuit out of court. You know which one, the case of Obama's "origins": No - not questioning his race - people are not asking if he is black or white. NO... What they want to know - is he really a citizen. Yeah. Inquiring mind's want to know. And who can blame them?
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I got an email from a couple of concerned people, who probably forgot I was even on their collective email list, asking me to sign a petition to have the facts revealed - is he a citizen or not.
I politely wrote back to my friends that their efforts would be in vain - there wouldn't be a court in the country who would hear such a case - not simply because the suit had been dismissed earlier, but because Obama is THE chosen leader of our nation. If indeed it was shown that his citizenship was invalid, only then would the courts or the legislature step in - to validate it.
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Citizen Barrack.
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Some people think I'm crazy, yet unknown to those folks, I do have a grasp on reality, and I knew this would happen... "The Supreme Court has turned down an emergency appeal from a New Jersey man who says President-elect Barack Obama is ineligible to be president because he was a British subject at birth.
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The court did not comment on its order Monday rejecting the call by Leo Donofrio of East Brunswick, N.J., to intervene in the presidential election. Donofrio says that since Obama had dual nationality at birth — his mother was American and his Kenyan father at the time was a British subject — he cannot possibly be a "natural born citizen," one of the requirements the Constitution lists for eligibility to be president.
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Donofrio also contends that two other candidates, Republican John McCain and Socialist Workers candidate Roger Calero, also are not natural-born citizens and thus ineligible to be president." - Source (That said: "At least one other appeal over Obama's citizenship remains at the court." Good luck with that.)
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So welcome to the new United States of America. The people voted. Gosh - it's so over folks - he's the Prez. I'm as unhappy about it as the next man. (Big surprise here: I didn't want him to be President. And now maybe some of his liberal buddies are not so happy about it either - that story here.)

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Christmas memories.


Poor Christmas.
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This image of the Bambino was my creche when I lived in Boston. I had a little room on Beacon Hill, a block down from the State House. The image lay upon a little table that I used for lectio and chanting the office. On Christmas eve I lit a candle and laid a sprig of pine along side him. If you look closely, you can see where the wax dripped onto the image. I later added the vestment trim to embellish the image. I keep it in a little silver frame now.