Writer’s Workshop: The Manger

December 14, 2011 · 53 comments

Post image for Writer’s Workshop: The Manger

3.) Your nativity scene.

When you’re seven and your Dad dies you will grasp at any belongings he left behind because they are proof that he existed and that he loved you.

Every Christmas your Mom will bring out The Manger and you will watch her set it up with care. She will arrange each figurine and she will adjust the lights and she will add her final touches.

When your Mom walks away, satisfied with the setting up of The Manger you will quietly slip over and play with the pieces. You will think about your Dad whose hands touched the same wood and built it from scratch and you will rearrange it your own way.

the manger

When you are grown you will lug that heavy hand built Manger to your own house and carefully set it up each Christmas. You will see other fancy nativity scenes in the stores, but you will refuse to buy them because your Manger was specially built by your Dad.

You will curse your Dad for building such a heavy, bulky Manger and for not bothering to varnish the wood. You will refuse to polish it yourself because you cannot alter something he made.

You will know that if he were alive he would tease you for holding on to it.  He would tell you to throw the damn thing out. And you would. Because you would not need a bulky Manger in your house to remind yourself of your Dad if your Dad were here and had not died when you were seven.

Instead you will set up The Manger with care and adjust the lights and add your final touches. You will walk away satisfied with your work, only to notice your own daughter slip over to play with the pieces.

the manger

You will watch her and smile as she arranges the figures to her liking just as you did when you were a girl. You will appreciate her happy spirit.

You will think about your Dad whose hands touched the same wood and built it from scratch and you will wish he had lived to meet her.

the manger

Now it’s your turn!

Mama's Losin' It

Choose a prompt, post it on your blog, and come back to add your name to the link list below. Be sure to sign up with the actual post URL and not just your basic blog URL (click on the title of your post for that URL). For good comment karma try to comment on the three blogs above your name!!

The Prompts:

1.) 10 things I Wanted for Christmas as a Kid but Didn’t Get and Still Want. (inspired by Hello Giggles)

2.) If you HAD to marry a celebrity…who would you choose and why? (Let’s just pretend you’re not actually already married mkay?)

3.) Your nativity scene. (inspired by Confessions of an Average Housewife)

4.) Share a story from your college years. (inspired by Little Miss Momma)

5.) Describe your least favorite meal growing up.

Mama Kat Loves You When You Love Her


The Lovely One December 14, 2011 at 9:53 pm

This is so sweet. I love it when you write about your dad. I’m sorry you didn’t get to see him as you grew up and got married and had children, but I believe that he saw all of it.

Erin December 14, 2011 at 10:01 pm

I have so many things that I hang onto just for that reason, either my dad or my brother had something to do with them!

It looks beautiful!

Gretchen December 14, 2011 at 10:03 pm

Beautiful! I’d give anything to have a manger that my sweet, late Daddy had made. You’re so lucky!

Tracy P. December 14, 2011 at 10:05 pm

Beautiful! It will probably end up at her house one day, and the same story will be told all over again–by her children’s grandmother, this time, who knows the story better than anyone. And the grandmother will smile because she is no longer the one who has to drag the thing out, but she will not tell her daughter not to. :-)

Janmary, N Ireland December 14, 2011 at 10:28 pm

Powerful and moving …. beautiful to have this special way to remember him …. but how I wish you had your Dad instead.

I’ve read through all your posts about your Dad – amazing writing but wish you had never had to write it or share it.

Thanks seems inadequate.

XLMIC December 14, 2011 at 10:32 pm

I love this. I cried a little. I know what you mean.

June Freaking Cleaver December 14, 2011 at 11:07 pm

I often think of how my dad would have loved The Boy, nothing like another redhead in the family. He’d have loved him despite his rowdy behavior (and maybe because of it).

Sweet post.

Karen and Gerard December 15, 2011 at 2:37 am

Your set looks very nice. It is sad your daughter didn’t get to know her grandpa but at least she can see some of his handiwork which is great (I didn’t know either of mine). My Nativity set has sentimental value as well. I linked up an old post I did: http://karenzemek.blogspot.com/2008/12/nativity-project-of-1982-with-help-from.html

Teacher Girl December 15, 2011 at 3:02 am

This was a sad and beautiful post! I know it would have made your dad smile.

Dianna December 15, 2011 at 3:20 am

This made me cry a little too. I was 8 months old when my Daddy died. He was a carpenter, and I have a china cabinet, a small baby crib and a trunk that he made. They are simple….but they’re treasures to me.
Beautiful post.

Diane@BeStillaMinute December 15, 2011 at 4:10 am

This was beautiful and yes, I had to wipe away a tear or two reading it…

My Willow Tree nativity set was given to me Christmas Day of 2003 by my first husband, the day before he died. He didn’t make it but I cherish it so, so much.

I know it warms your heart something fierce to see your daughter play with your set. Thanks for sharing it with us.

JDaniel4's Mom December 15, 2011 at 4:17 am

You have me starting the day in tears! How wonderful to have something he had made.

Dumb mom December 15, 2011 at 4:23 am

It’s awesome that you have that to share with your family. One day it will probably sit in her house too.

leah aka FFPMaMMa December 15, 2011 at 4:38 am

I think it is so special that something we might just set up as a decoration has such sentimental value to you. Hopefully one day your little one will also cherish it and respect it’s importance to you. Mine too represents one who is no longer with us, thus making it’s importance that much more meaningful during this season.

Katie December 15, 2011 at 5:34 am

What a precious memory. How wonderful to have something hand made by your father. Merry Christmas!

Jenny December 15, 2011 at 5:39 am

This was such a sweet post. Both of my Nativity scenes were made by special people in my life too. Aren’t they such a treasure?

Arnebya @whatnowandwhy December 15, 2011 at 5:42 am

This was really beautiful. Just think, one day she’ll read this post and smile b/c the manger may be in her own home and maybe her own daughter will rearrange it.

Peg December 15, 2011 at 5:58 am

Not fair to make me cry so early in the morning. Whenever you write about your dad the love you felt and still feel for him is so obvious. I am so sorry you didn’t get to have him for long. At least you do have something to hold onto that was his.

LB December 15, 2011 at 5:59 am

That is the sweetest story ever! Really touching. Isn’t funny how the most unassuming things can spark the most heart-felt memories??? Merry Christmas!

christina December 15, 2011 at 6:21 am

i’m in actual tears right now. that was so beautifully, so simply written… i’m so so so glad for you that you still have that manger.

Kristy @PampersandPinot December 15, 2011 at 6:26 am

I love how you wrote this. So simple and honest and full of love.

morgan December 15, 2011 at 6:39 am

So sweet … love her smile at the end! And it’s so wonderful that you invite her to enjoy the manger as much as you do.

Jen December 15, 2011 at 6:55 am

There are three angels that used to sit in my Grandma’s house. One year my mom took them to her house and now they sit in mine. I love them. I remember them from when I was little. I love them and never more now that she is gone.

Loukia December 15, 2011 at 7:34 am

Just beautiful, Kat. This post made me cry at work.

May December 15, 2011 at 7:41 am

oooo……straight to my heart!

Jerralea December 15, 2011 at 8:02 am

I totally agree … if I were you, I’d keep that manger forever!

When my dad passed, I kept his pickup truck for 10 years before I could give it up. (LOL, it was old to begin with!)

Jenny December 15, 2011 at 8:03 am

What a sweet post. My Dad is living, but I keep things that remind me of him because so much of the time he’s been far away. God bless your beautiful heart this Christmas!

Kaye December 15, 2011 at 8:27 am

perfect post–I’m hanging on to things of both my parents. It is hard to let go.

Jennifer December 15, 2011 at 8:39 am

10 years since diagnosis on Sunday. You’re killing me Kat.

Cindee December 15, 2011 at 8:54 am

That is what the holiday is about. Memories and new memories. We live in a house where traditions run deep. On Christmas Eve we gather with four generations. Tamales my grandma made are carried on by my daughter and her little girls. I brought out a Angel my grma adored and light her every year. If I listen I can hear her say over just a little. Thanks

jo@blog-diggidy December 15, 2011 at 9:17 am

so awesome that you still have it! i am crying like a little girl kat! though it was a long time ago, i am sure it is difficult still today especially this time of year! special blessings to you and yours this holiday season and always! i know it’s always hard for us around the holidays with our son being gone (7 years, november 5).

Paula Kiger December 15, 2011 at 10:03 am

I read this early this morning but was in a rush to get out the door. This piece has stayed with me all day. Thank you for sharing it and thank your dad for helping create you ….

Leighann December 15, 2011 at 10:03 am

What a touching post.
Heartbreaking and Heartwarming all at the same time.

Jennifer December 15, 2011 at 11:21 am

How beautiful, the manger, your post, and this memory of your father that you are keeping alive for your children.

Aimee December 15, 2011 at 11:49 am

How very sweet to watch your daughter play with such a cherished set. You made us all weepy today – thank you!

Ducky December 15, 2011 at 12:24 pm

I fight tears while typing. Makes me think of my nephew who lost his mom, my sister, last year at the age of five (him…not her obviously *grin*) and I wonder what of hers he will keep or IF he will. And I also think of the few things of hers I now own, mostly just memories and photos, and how I did, have, and will take them out year after year touching, arranging and being statisfied with my work.

Marie December 15, 2011 at 1:24 pm

Beautiful piece. Just lovely.


Dara Dokas December 15, 2011 at 5:43 pm

It’s so wonderful that you have the manger set your father made. You’re kids have a little part of him, too.

Pattyann December 15, 2011 at 5:46 pm

Love this one today. It reminds me of the things that make this holiday so very special.

Recovering Supermom December 15, 2011 at 8:15 pm

Mama Kat, this is beautiful. What a lovely way to remember your father. I love that your daughter now plays with the pieces. Your pieces look exactly like the ones my parents have. I remember going up to the shelf where they were set out and playing with them, too.

Jean Summers December 15, 2011 at 9:21 pm

Beautifully done, Kat! You have a wonderful knack of making us laugh and cry, but I love when you show this side of you. Soooo much depth there that no one would suspect if they just saw your humorous posts. I have handmade houses that my dad’s mom made that we always used to put under the tree (too fragile now). My Christmas memories of my dad include sitting on the floor with him and setting them up every year. Merry Christmas to you and your whole family!

Adrienne December 16, 2011 at 3:30 am

I loved how you wrote this. It was beautiful!

Suzanne December 16, 2011 at 9:15 am

This made me cry. It’s so frankly written and beautiful.

Dana December 16, 2011 at 10:04 am

Dear Kat – I come to your site to laugh. I didn’t know I’d cry today. And I had overlooked this post when it was first published. So now I feel like a CottonHeadedNinnyMuggins. I’m touched. Love this.

Sarah December 16, 2011 at 11:18 am

I am so doing this writing project this weekend! Thank you – glad to have found you (as a result of TangledLou’s post, which I saw on BlogHer).

I love the story of your dad and the nativity set!

Coreen December 16, 2011 at 11:24 am

Such a lovely post. And you made me cry. Thank you for sharing.

Kisatrtle December 16, 2011 at 2:23 pm

Beautiful. It brought a tear to my eye

Simone @Greatfun4kids December 17, 2011 at 1:41 am

This made ME cry too.
So beautiful.
So so beautiful.
There’s nothing else I can say. Just THAT.
And also, WOW I love that amazing huge wooden Manger.

Jenny December 18, 2011 at 4:59 am

aww this made me cry.

BalancingMama (Julie) December 18, 2011 at 4:54 pm

Sweet. I think we had those exact same figures! No manger, though. Yours is fabulous. Merry Christmas!

Leslie aka Mother Robin March 28, 2013 at 4:14 pm

Beautiful. So easy to relate to.

Previous post:

Next post: