(That is, peanuts as in Carter, not Schultz)
Like many families, we have long-held and beloved Christmas traditions. One of them is bringing out and setting up the Creche during Advent.
Our Nativity set has been carted across oceans, and stored in various attics, basements and barns over the years - always carefully wrapped and stored away after each Epiphany by mom, into its own special blue plastic bag. Last Epiphany was no different as it was packed away, and we thought this Advent would be no different as we prepared to set it up again. We were not expecting what we found in that special blue plastic bag, that's for sure!
This particular Creche is rather rustic...a wooden barn, with real straw, and simple figures of the principle players, from Blessed Mother to sheep. The barn contains a little loft above the main room: this is where a little mouse usually takes up residence - a felt character added to the cast of characters years ago. (Even mice worship at the Manger, no?) Mom was in the process of assembling the movable bits, and tidying up the straw into a pleasingly artful arrangement, when she noticed a peanut nestled in the straw of the loft. That was rather odd, as peanuts have never featured in our Manger scenes in the past. What was even odder was that the peanut was not alone...it had a companion. In fact, several companions.
As mom pulled blades of straw out, trying to come to grips with what she was seeing, the peanuts multiplied by the tens and then by the handfulls. My cupped hands were filled four times and emptied into the kitchen garbage, before I gave up and merely dumped peanuts straight into the blue bag.
You have to imagine mom's startled exclamations of "How?" "This is nuts!" and "What's going on?" with me on my knees in helpless giggles as mom got more and more baffled, straw drifted down around us, and holy figures were unceremoniously pulled out in the hunt for nuts. Honestly, the Creche turned out to be literally packed full of peanuts. Mom was shaking it overhead, and tilting it from side to side in an attempt to get stragglers out through the loft opening, or trying to scoop them out with a long-handled spoon. And they kept coming, and kept coming. We had them rolling under our feet all over the dining room floor. They were tucked into strands of straw, or lodged between the feet of shepherds. Have you ever struggled to open a bag of candy in the theatre, only to have it spill all over the floor and down the tiers in a long, drawn-out cascade of noise? That's the sound these peanuts made as they came tumbling out of the Creche in the hundreds.
We speculated as to how peanuts came to be in the Manger in the first place. Did little hands decide it would be fun to put Oma's treats in with Baby Jesus last Christmas? But Oma is meticulous and very observant: she would have noticed such out-of-place residents as these. Or perhaps a little foraging critter stored up its winter provisions in the tightly sealed blue plastic bag with no holes. I can't imagine how many trips it would have taken from bird feeder to barn with peanut-stuffed cheeks to fill that Creche...certainly a whole summer's worth of back-and-forthing.
If indeed it was a little chipmunk who did all that hard work, my sincere apologies for undoing all your efforts. Please do not come searching for the Creche in the hopes of finding your stash...a nice fresh pile of peanuts awaits you outside. (and this year when we put the Creche away, we're going to use Rubbermaid!)