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Macaroni Manger

We had some water damage from a mysterious hairline crack in our foundation and had to toss out some of our beloved ornaments this year. Some were growing mold, some were completely tarnished, some where a melted mushy muddy mess, some were just still as ugly as hell as we remembered them from our tainted childhoods and we threw them out just because. Why not? How trickling ground water can manage to seep into small Rubbermaid containers within larger Rubbermaid containers is beyond me but I imagine it has a lot to do with science.

The ones that broke my heart most to let go were the handmade ones, like the set of snowmen that my younger brother had made for me when he was only six. He slopped white paint all over these warped clay snowmen and haphazardly stabbed toothpicks all over them. They are the characters that nightmares are made of and they laid at the bottom of the container  – a black bearded oatmeal sprinkled with gold glitter.  Sigh.

But my son’s manger made it.

He made it last year and I am most proud of it. This art project made him so overwhelmed with anxiety. He wanted it – just like everything he creates – absolutely perfect and when he realized that he had glued half of it the wrong way,  he smashed it to pieces. The kids at his desk laughed at him which only made him feel ten times worse and his teacher never came to help. He told me that evening, “Mom, I was left alone at my desk with busted up macaroni Jesus.”

So he waited until recess and stayed in to get calm. He got new macaroni and started again, “because we all make mistakes mom.”

Then he ended up gluing the damn thing on the WRONG way AGAIN — the hangers on the front.

Instead of smashing the manger again, he glued moss over top so you couldn’t see the hangers, then he affixed the gold star.

My goodness – I loved it the moment I spotted it and before I even heard the story.

We lost some of the moss but she’s holding up!

I kept that manger up long after Christmas was over.

…because I loved it

…and because I’m lazy

I also kept this tree picture up:

“We all make mistakes mom.”

Yes we do.

And we are not perfect.

We just have to be good enough and try our best — keep trying.


Do you have a favourite Christmas ornament or decoration?


  1. Love this whole post, Kim! Such a bummer about your childhood ornaments 🙁 The manger is adorable and the sweetest ever. Imperfection is actually what makes these things even better. I love my kids wooden ornaments they painted and put glitter on. I still have them stashed away but I don’t decorate the tree with the kids childhood things. It makes me kind of sad, I guess because they’re all grown up and not always here for Christmas. So I’ve slowly bought new ornaments.

    My Beau told me that as a boy, he used to smash his projects half way through, when it wasn’t working or he could see his mistake. It took him several years (probably into his 20’s) to realize he was only making more work for himself. This could be a boy thing. I also recall anxiety about my crafts in school because they never looked like the example.

  2. It’s hard for me to pick just one favorite ornament. I have a lot of them, and all of the special ones have memories attached to them. A few years ago I started buying ornamants whenever we travelled somewhere new and I love reminiscing as I decorate the tree. This year I actually made s “special ornament” tree.
    I don’t have any old ones from family and such and all of our Christmas decor is what I’ve collected over the years since we’ve been married which is special in its own way, I think.
    My youngest has issues with perfection and it’s hard for her to make mistakes.

  3. Oh I love his manger – it is so sweet! I’m glad it survived the water problem and I’m sorry to hear about the water problem. We have a lot of water issues at our house. Right now the Rubbermaid containers are up high so hopefully I won’t suffer the same fate. And I hear you on leaving stuff up for long after the season. There was a year my tree was up until almost Easter. Yep. Solidarity.

  4. I’m so happy to hear his maner made it! What an amazing boy. Staying inside to calm himself, and then problem solving when he made a mistake again….awesome. I hate how kids can be so mean to each other, but I guess adults can be even worse. Ps. I would keep that picture up all the time!

  5. So glad his manger made it! It is a lovely decoration!
    I love the message “We just have to be good enough and try our best — keep trying”
    Hope your December has been good so far.

  6. Bummer that you had to throw out so many ornaments, but the manger is adorable and has such a cute story 🙂

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