Nativity Scene No Place for a Peanut

I have a crêche crush, and one of the best looking I’ve ever seen was displayed last year at the entrance to Peridot, a wonderful home decor and gift shop in Atlanta, where I always visit Sister Duvall et. al. at Christmas. Peridot was on our post- Christmas shopping route. Well dang if Duvall didn’t just say Merry Christmas for next year, which is now this year, and I was thrilled to pieces. Perfect for the ranch, it is.

Our carved wooden nativity scene arranged on the center table in the great room at Rancho La Zaca.
Our carved wooden nativity scene arranged on the center table in the great room at Rancho La Zaca.

I said I wouldn’t decorate the ranch this year because we will not be there for Christmas and in fact I’m already not there, but I had to put up this beautiful manger scene, which will stay up until Epiphany, so it will have a good run.

Even His Grace said, “Honey, this is beautiful.”

He is a man of few words.

Nativity scene from the back
From the back. The cattle are lowing in a bed of camellia leaves.

What is a low, anyway, as in the cattle are lowing? What are they up to, exactly?

Definition of low, Collins online dictionary
Now you know, via the Collins online dictionary

Another thing I’ve learned about nativity scenes is that it is best to have one with the baby Jesus permanently affixed to his manger. If not, a law of the universe is that the baby Jesus gets lost. Lord knows (if anyone does) we have a hard enough time keeping Christ in Christmas – but losing the baby out of the manger adds insult to injury.

Baby Jesus in his manger.
Carved from a single piece of wood, this baby Jesus is not going anywhere.

It gets worse.

Peanut in manger
A manger is no place for a peanut.

My aforesaid sister has a pretty but baby-less creche ( I told you..) in her living room.

Nature abhors a void.

I couldn’t help it. A peanut fits perfectly. Add two eyes and a mouth, and…

It does not look a thing like Jesus.

It looks a little like Howie Mandel.

Nativity scene with peanut substitute for baby in manger
What can I say.

I know Jesus forgives me, but I hope Santa is not watching.


  1. You crack me up.

    Let us hope and pray a line of hundreds does not form outside looking to see Jesus in the Peanut!

    May our eyes always be open to the beauty around us–open to the wonderful Gift that is Christmas; a message of Peace, Harmony, and Love.


  2. Hi Frances,
    Our big baby Jesus just resurfaced after an absence of three years reminding me that nothing is ever really lost. The peanut gave me a big smile. Love your Blog…keep it coming.

  3. Too weird you wrote about this as last night I set my nativity scene out that you gave us as a wedding present and I thought ,” I need to write Frances and tell her how much I enjoy it every year!”. So you saved me a card! ;). Many thanks cousin!

  4. Beautiful crèche! BEAUTIfUl! I remember my kids bringing home a peanut shell wrapped in felt from Sunday School. Still have a couple. I love my Sweet glass Nativity a friend gave me. Keeping Christ in Christmas– IS– almost as hard as keeping that baby in the Manger.☺

  5. My favorite line: “Another thing I’ve learned about nativity scenes is that it is best to have one with the baby Jesus permanently affixed to his manger. If not, a law of the universe is that the baby Jesus gets lost. Lord knows (if anyone does) we have a hard enough time keeping Christ in Christmas – but losing the baby out of the manger adds insult to injury.”

    Thanks for making me smile at the end of the day. xoxo Maili

    PS and i have a collection of Nativity Scenes from tiny dollhouse ones to ones from all over the world.

  6. Hi Frances,
    don’t know if you remember me, but we were at St. Mary’s together. I followed the renovation of Bee’s cottage religiously and loved every inch of it! i work in an art gallery in Charleston, SC and yesterday some of your relatives came in:Louise and Eleanor! Louise and I had similar life tracks: St Mary’s, Carolina and Chi-O! We had a great time talking and they told me of your blog! I love it! Spent the whole day catching up! So happy about your marriage. If you and His Grace are ever in Charleston, please give me a call. Would love to catch up

    1. Croft! I am so happy to hear from you! I will reply to you privately in just a bit. Thank you so much for writing! 🙂

  7. Frances,

    I am laughing because this is something that my sisters and I always laugh about….whether we’ve been in Europe or Mexico we have noticed many times that the Baby Jesus is suspiciously absent from the manger. Hmmmmmm……not sure whether the church removes the Baby in anticipation of sticky fingers or really a case of sticky fingers…. Loved your post as always!

  8. This peanut in the manger story might lead to something big.I can see it as a movie or hear next year’s Christmas song! You’ll be on the talk shows, signing autographs, there will be a sequel…

  9. Frances, many,many years ago you gave me a creche and i still love it and put it out every Christmas. It is so beautiful. As are you. xxoobb

  10. Frances, I feel sure that if Jesus read your blog, He would get a huge kick out of your latest entry. Wise men(and women)still seek Him. Merry Christmas! :)Hazel

  11. Oh Frances, you make my sides hurt…I think I need a crèche update….I still go “awwww” when I pull out the one Miles made in pre-school. It features a Baby Jesus that is fancied out of a wooden ice cream cup scoop. He is reclining comfortably in half a toilet tissue roll. Oh! now there ya go! I think a peanut might be a huge improvement. xo Pete

  12. I am sitting here laughing like a loon at the peanut baby, because I had the same thought as Bruce Barone! After a hopping day at work, how wonderful to get home and find your post and those beautiful photos. That is one beautiful Nativity scene, ma’am! When I visit Atlanta (going to see the Whimbles!) I am definitely visiting Peridot. Thank you, as always, for the laughter and the glorious, beautiful photographs, including the peanut baby!

  13. OMG!! Speaking of … You are too Funny!!! I am sitting in a Lounge at JKK Looking at that picture of the peanut in the manger laughing my head off!! Thanks again Frances for putting a big smile on our faces ! Merry Merry!

  14. Hi, Frances! You are still as funny as I remember!

    I know you probably know this already, but some people believe one should not display baby Jesus until His proper time, i.e. Christmas morning. Now, I’m with you…If I don’t have Him attached to something large, He will be lost! Heaven knows, we can’t have that, now can we??? I have enough trouble keeping up with Mary and Joseph and they are big figures. And, who has time on Christmas morning to add “the peanut” anyway?

    Hugs to you-
    Katharine Pate Krueger

    1. Well hello Katharine! How nice to her from you! Thank you so much for writing – and for this bit of nativity knowledge. You are absolutely correct about that custom, and I believe it was started to make the people who had lost their baby J’s feel better. 😉 Hugs back, Frances

  15. Frances, I always enjoy your blog, it’s a welcomed treat. I put our creche up first to put the season in perspective. Actually, it was started by my daughter who was only 5 at the time and we were living in Italy in the ’70s and is cherished by all of us. Peanut does look like Howie.

  16. Frances, I enjoy your blog & I really like your Nut-Tivity! I actually have one with all the characters made from peanuts. Gets lots of smiles, and isn’t that the spirit of the season? Happy holidays!

  17. Damn, you’re funny! And, BTW…can’t tell you how many baby Jesus’s disappeared over the years at our house! The boys always blamed the dog! Merry Christmas from all the Ballantines!

  18. Loved it! We have a giggle every year when we set up our beautiful crèche. One poor little lamb stands proudly on 3 legs. The children used to play with it, rearranging the whole scene over and over… The little guy just wasn’t up to galloping around the barn.

  19. Frances,the way you arranged the creche is wonderful. Especially crazy about the mix of camellia leaves and holly. Noticed that camellia was used in the pictures of arrangements at the wedding. You do inspire !!
    Merry Christmas !

  20. We also have a collection of nativity sets from around the world. Many are reminders of wonderful vacations. Though we have never lost a baby Jesus, it may well be because we leave Him out until his birthday morning. Our daughter was a very tiny baby and I called her “Peanut”…still do actually! Not so bad….

  21. I cannot tell you how many Baby Jesuses we have lost in our house. Thank you for the peanut replacement idea ~ I may get some teensy tiny stick-on googley eyes to make them a little more animated!

  22. The creche is beautiful. But here in France the tradition is that we do not put the baby Jesus in his manger until mid-night of the 25th and he is put in place by the youngest member of the household. Hopefully that youngest member has not forgotten his special hiding place where he stored Jesus in waiting for the moiment to “be born”. And another tradition is that the wise men are not put out until epiphany.It does help us to understand the calendar of events a little better. To see the empty manger and then the joy of seeing the baby Jesus in it on Christmas day is an event lived.

    1. Dearest Jill, thank you for this. It is lovely to arrange the crêche with a sense of history and several people have commented on this. I am now totally around to the idea but do hate the thought of sawing the poor babe a-loose from his carving. Seriously, thank you, it is so lovely to hear from you, and Joyeux Noel. Bis, Frances

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