baby Jesus with eye shadow


This is a seasonal post - but with a twist.

Although I'm a refugee from a Roman Catholic youth, a steadfast atheist for almost 50 years, I suppose I may still be somewhat conflicted about the baby Jesus.

For some reason, when I saw this delicate little ceramic infant a number of years ago inside the gift shop at New Mexico's ancient El Santuario de Chimayo, I couldn't resist snapping it up. At first the priest didn't want to part with the pale-skinned hand-made figure, even though it was on the merchandise table, but he eventually agreed to sell it. It turned out to be the last one in stock, and he wasn't sure they'd ever get another. Maybe he had fallen in love with it himself, and maybe he sensed I wasn't going to use it for conventional devotion.

Okay, it was the eyes that got me.

I lay him down carefully in some raffia on the cherry tea table every December 24th; it's always the most Christmas-y thing in our apartment. We're actually both pretty devoted to this child, even though our own convention is that he gets packed away in a few days until his return appearance next year.

When the kid looks up at us through that fantastic eyeshadow, I like to think he's trying to tell us something we already know.