* This story first appeared in the Gulf Coast Newspapers and won a Humor award from the Alabama Press Association.
Okay. I know some of you will frown at me for this, and on some level, I know it does look bad. But allow me to explain. He’s the perfect size, and he loved Jesus. And this is the South, and we love him.
Elvis is in my manger scene.
I can’t remember where I found this Elvis ornament. Perhaps it was on my pilgrimage to Graceland, or maybe it was just a trip to Wal-Mart. I get those two trips confused. But once I had him, and after a few years of just hanging him on the tree, I realized Elvis was the exact same size as the other characters in my creche’.
At first I placed Elvis in the back for a little laugh, but then, when he looked so natural and happy, I thought he was the perfect representation for all of us. The everyday flawed modern man, who has come to worship the real King.
The Shepherd Boy thinks Elvis is cool. He said, “Thou sparkly clothes are wondrous, Mr. Presley.” Elvis responded, in his best King James drawl, “Thank ye, thank ye very much.”
Wearing his gold lame’ suit, he looks kind of like a Wise Man. And if you want to get technical, the Wise Men weren’t even there when Jesus was first born in the manger, so we can also question their legitimacy in the creche’. The Wise Men came later, probably when Jesus was at least a year old, yet there they stand, front and center as if they belonged there on that Holy night.
In Naples, Italy, I found a street filled as far as you could see of shop after shop, selling tiny miniature figurines meant to be displayed in homes with elaborate manger scenes. There were tiny chicken coops, bakers, merchants with wagons full of vegetables, and even pizza makers.
Now tell me a pizzeria was in Bethlehem when Jesus was born. I don’t think so. And how about the Santas that you see, kneeling at the manger? They’ve always been kind of strange to me.
Perhaps we place additional figures in our manger scenes, because we wonder what it would have been like to have been present on that miraculous night. Where would we have stood? Would we have helped Mary and Joseph find room in an Inn, or would we have turned them away? Would we have helped with the new baby? Sang a lullaby? Brought a casserole?
So, for now at my house, the King of Rock and Roll is now worshiping the King of Kings. And since I look at it like that, I don’t feel quite so sacrilegious anymore.
But to be on the safe side, if my Pastor stops by for a visit, the drawer of the sideboard will slip open, and the head shepherd will suddenly announce,
“Elvis has left the manger.”