A stuffed dog and the baby Jesus

Years and years and years ago, my Christmas revolved around the annual visit with my my aunt and grandaunt to the moving crib on Parnell Square in Dublin. I would wander goggle-eyed through the fourteen scenes from the bible, each depicted by moving characters. Eve tempting Adam with the apple and him feebly shaking his head. Noah and his family building the ark. Daniel in the lion’s den. The angel appearing to Mary. Joseph and herself being refused at the inn. All the characters move in some way and the combination of bible scenes and the real stuffed dog who saved three people from drowning is slightly peculiar if not a tad surreal.

The background paintings for each of the 14 scenes depicted are the work of Dublin artist Cormac Larkin. I took my nephews there this week and although it wasn’t nearly as big as I remember, it still has that certain something that makes it part of Christmas. It’s been on the go for years and yet so many people have never heard of it or visited it. And it’s free! So if you’re in or around 42 Parnell Square, you might drop by and have a look for yourself. It’s worth it.

Maybe it’s age – but this Christmas I find myself wanting to do the traditional stuff – the visit to the zoo, the crib, and out with the Wren boys on Stephen’s Day. I wonder what’s driving this? Perhaps the fact that there’s so much misery and sadness in this country and from what I’m reading in the papers, and hearing on Irish radio, things aren’t much better in Hungary. Here’s hoping that 2012 brings back some sanity to our world and that we learn to recapture that childish wonder and appreciation for the simple pleasures of life.

To you and yours, wherever you are. May this Christmas be the start of something wonderful and the New Year bring with it peace and prosperity for all.

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