Mr. Gordo and I are on the road, visiting our godchild and his parents at the moment, then later today headed to Cape Cod to spend Christmas with The Beautiful Lisa. It has turned out to be a terribly busy holiday season, with traveling back and forth along several different planes: personal, professional, interior. Before we left Big Eastern City, Mr. Gordo and I created a tableau for the holiday, which in Venezuela is called a Nacimiento. A version of a crèche, in Venezuela they tend to be incredibly elaborate recreations of Jesus's birth, with a cast in the thousands: townsfolk, shepherds, three kings, visiting dignitaries, angels, animals, and of course the star trio, accompanied by little houses, trees, lakes, pathways, and what have you. Imagine my surprise when, during my first Christmas trip to Caracas, I walked into Mr. Gordo's childhood home to discover his father had arranged a Nacimiento on a table approximately seven feet by seven feet, with little hills, a tiny village, and live plants. It was, needless to say, impressive. Growing up we always had a modest but high quality crèche, but very simple compared to the Busby Berkeley productions characteristic of some Venezuelans. Every piece has meaning, and must be arranged in particular combinations and spatial relationships.
In any event, in celebration of the holiday, Mr. Gordo and I did our own Nacimiento, composed of various things we had around the house. The effect was both very gay as well as being kind of pop, with a slight edge of irony, although since Mr. Gordo loves Christmas, the irony is muted by an interest in recreating, with whatever is at hand, a Nacimiento scene.
In the image above, Joseph and Mary are represented by a sculpture of a couple that Mr. Gordo bought the day of his 21st birthday in Barquisimeto. The garland around the Baby Jesus, played in this Nacimiento by a cute plastic dog pencil holder, was made by a contemporary artist in Caracas. The rooster, above the crèche, is of course a kitchen timer that I bought for Mr. Gordo's new home in Geneva. The snaggle-toothed fuzzy walrus on the left is the Mule, and the fierce looking wooden perrito from Oaxaca is the Ox. It was my bright idea to place the Jade plant above the crèche, with a plastic Tin-Tin playing a shepherd. The image of Jose Gregorio, the man in the suit (which is actually a CANTV phone card) is another shepherd. You can only partially see the Angel, in the upper right hand corner. Off stage, the three kings are played by three skeleton figurines for El Dia de los Muertos.
While the material value of the birth narrative of Jesus seems abstract and distant, our pop-objet trouvé recreation of tradition could be understood both as an exercise in cynicism as well as an attempt to recraft the heavy-handedness of the holiday towards a more vital end. Or maybe it was just fun.
Bereft of intellectualism this morning, with the baby running around making strange sounds and my hosts mildly exasperated at blogging in the midst of it all, suffice it to say I wish you all a Merry Christmas!