Our story so far: As we demo the interior, we found a multitude of items in our old church to toss or give away.
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Two and a half weeks after we closed on the church, Tyler’s hired man St. Johnny tackled the closet I had once told Tyler I would clean out first. So many other priorities had pushed their way to the front of the line.
The closet was a single door along the eave on the second floor. When we’d first toured the church, a hand-lettered sign was posted on the closet door warning: “Do not open!” Of course, I opened it. Inside I found a couple of paint cans and a whole lot of dirty insulation.
“Oh, I think I read somewhere they had a wild animal in here. Maybe it was in there,” the real estate agent said.
But Stan the squirrel found a final resting place elsewhere.
Now, St. Johnny was demolishing the whole wall; my procrastination had become his opportunity. We hoped to create storage there, maybe enclosed by short, sliding barn doors.
St. Johnny found a whole lot more than old paint (but no live animals). The single closet door led to a long space along the eave, filled with Christmas decorations. Ah, so the church had already been using it as storage. Unfortunately, all of it was covered in a thick layer of dust and insulation.
As usual, St. Johnny moved boxes to my sorting station, and I sorted through them to determine what was garbage, what was worth donating and what was worth keeping.
All of the tinsel, the Easter basket stuffing and a box of Christmas manger costumes some Sunday School class in 1970 wore went into the dumpster. Some talented mom (or a moms) had turned a passel of second graders into proud shepherds watching a flock of kindergarteners by night. But the costumes had seen better days. At least three hundred dollars worth of multi-colored Christmas lights went to the basement; at some later date we would determine if these lights could be used to decorate the exterior of the church.
I found two manger scenes. One included a lighted plastic three-foot tall Holy Family. I couldn’t bear to relegate the miniature family to the dumpster, so I situated them on the curb. It was an unseasonably warm day in the middle of December, and only an hour went by before a passing van determined they had room at the inn.
“Hey, are you giving these away?”
“Yup,” I called out from inside the church, “they’re all yours.”
At the other manger-scene extreme was a cardboard stable filled with little figurines. The disintegrating barn went into the dumpster. But like their bigger relatives, I couldn’t bear to toss the figurines. So I brought them home, intent on at least washing them before giving them away.
As I scrubbed their faces gently in the soapy dishwater (the “gently” part came after I erased a Wise Man’s face—ugh), I determined the figurines came from at least three different crèche scenes. I had three Marys but only one baby Jesus; this evoked a memory of my little brother who repeatedly stole Baby Sweets from my Mattel Sunshine Family back in the late 1970s—babies can be so compelling. Still, maybe someone was missing a Mary. So on the last day of the year I used my final opportunity to claim a tax deduction for a charitable donation, and I transported my motley manger family to Goodwill. Maybe someone would find a treasure in an expressionless Wise Man, or maybe not. But at least I tried.
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Tomorrow: Some things are even more sacred than figurines of the Holy Family. Click here to read it.