A Recalcitrant Wife and Mother Tells All


We have a Nativity Scene on our entryway table. It is a beautiful Fontanini set that my husband bought for me as a gift early in our marriage. Over the years my mother and mother-in-law have added to the set with additional key players like wise men and animals. The whole family treasures it. 

The only problem is that nobody agrees on how to set it up each year. Every time I walk past it, the pieces have been moved. For a long time I thought this was the work of toddlers gone wild. But now I know differently. 

My husband is a control freak. 

He has a very specific idea of where each figure should go, the angle at which they should be facing, and the proximity of each figure to the others. He’s obsessed. We call it “micro-mangering.” The man knows his Nativity and likes it just so. 

It kinda pisses me off. I mean really, what a waste of energy. If you want to micro-manage something, how about the laundry? Or if only he had the same high expectations for the kitchen and would painstakingly care for and rearrange the pots and pans so carefully. Maybe if we had pots and pans with Baby Jesus painted on the side… 

So naturally, I find myself rearranging the Nativity pieces in crazy ways just to bait the poor guy. It is so easy and creates so much fun. It’s probably a tad sacrilegious… but I just blame it on the baby. Shhhh. Don’t tell him OK.  Besides, I figure any God who would create ME in his image clearly has a great sense of humor and won’t mind a little sheep-on-camel action in the name of a good joke.


"Um, excuse me, but your sheep is buggering my camel, dude."

"Um, excuse me, but your sheep is buggering my camel, dude."


"Don't just stand there Joseph! Help me for Chrissakes! This barn cat is trying to steal the breath of the new born King! Help!"

"OH! Oh my goodness! Somebody... HELP! Don't just stand there Joseph! Help me for Chrissakes! This barn cat is trying to steal the breath of the new born King!"


"Do you smell what I smell?"

The forgotten verse to the beloved classic carol: "Do you smell what I smell?"

©2008 The Bearded Iris


  1. Amanda

    My grandmother has the same set. I put the Baby Jesus in the fridge right behind the Sierra Mist a few years ago as I was leaving her house. Never heard a peep about it.

  2. MM

    “Micro-Mangering”. Brilliant.

    Is that a cheddar nestling there or just the baby cheeses?

  3. flyingheidigirl


    my mom has exactly the same set, and i used to get in trouble EVERY YEAR for re-arranging the pieces in less than polite ways. i’ll have to post some of ours for you. (shepherd boinking sheep was always popular, as was dingo eating baby, and angel being given lipservice by the kneeling wise man…) yes, i realize i’m probably going to hell.

    and then last year when my 11yo got caught putting the cow in the overhead loft, i was so proud i nearly cried.

    my mom has learned to accept this behavior. i mean, when my husband and i (we were 16) put makeup on her bust of JS Bach just to see how long it would take her to notice (2-1/2 months), she kind of had to learn to accept it.

  4. Not Drowning Mother

    It’s been a few days at least since I read this post, and I still burst out laughing every time I think of the barn cat “stealing the breath” of the Baby Jesus. Thanks for that. This is a challenging time of year and I need all the help I can get.

  5. hellesbelles86

    Love the cat stealing the baby’s breath! This is just too hilarious!

  6. Kristen

    I always replace Jesus with an acorn to see how long it takes for someone to notice. My grandmother has a Noah’s Ark set like this, so I also like to take all the animals out of the ark and set it up to look like the ark sank… the giraffes are using Noah’s body as a flotation device, the gorillas are facedown in the water, etc. Good times.

    • The Bearded Iris

      That is fabulous! I bet Grandma loves it when you do that. Keeps her young. Carry on!

  7. Shannon

    My parents have this same set!! We loved re-arranging the figures as kids. 🙂

    By the way, I love your blog and have been laughing my butt of at it for days now. My husband thinks I’m deranged. Good times!

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