December 2001. Ross was nearly 3 years old. As I unpacked the nativity set I quizzed him on the cast of characters. The side dishes-the camels, the wise men, and the Angel-he had cold. But he was having some trouble with the main course.
"So Ross, who is this?" I say as I hold up the Joseph figure.
"Jonah," Ross says evenly.
"Who is he?" I prodded further.
"He got stuck in a whale and he is this baby's daddy," he explains as he points to the tiny ceramic baby.
I held up the next figure, Mary. "Who is this?"
"Mary. The Mom." Ross looks bored, like I'm wasting his time with these easy-peasy questions. The animals were more interesting, because he got to invent camel sounds.
Well, were are at 50%, sorta. Much higher if we count the donkey. But he should get this one, no problem. Jesus is the star of the show.
"Who is this, Ross?" I ask as I hold up the wee babe in manger.
Ross' eyes rolled left, but he didn't turn his face away from the Teletubbies.
"What did he do?" I ask carefully.
Ross stood and gave me his full attention.
"His Mom put him in a basket, then left him in the river. Then someone else found him, and brought him to live here in this barn with the sheep."
So I began to wonder at this Old Testament interpretation of the creche. Might Ross be Jewish? So glad we got him circumcised. But wait. He gets Mary right 100% of the time. Maybe he's Catholic. Whatever his religious inclination, the names stuck. He couldn't be dissuaded. And we really didn't try that hard. Because it was super funny.
He didn't seem to have any trouble understanding Santa.
Big red guy who brings gifts.
Didn't bring animals two by two into the ark.