My package from the parental unit arrived today.
A nativity set!
I've been looking for a nativity set for years, but haven't found one I liked. You can see the hand-me-down one from my mother-in-law in the corner of the picture; I don't care for it particularly, but I never found one that I either liked enough to justify spending money on or could afford.
But this...it's perfect. I have no idea where my parents got it or why they picked it out for me. I'm not sure how they sussed out my personal aesthetic when nothing I own really reflects it, since my entire house is hand-me-downs and other-people's-decorations. But they did. And I'm happy. I seriously cried when I saw it.
There may only be seven days of Christmas left, but I set it up anyway.
It's very simple, just plain red clay figures (a lot of Southwestern-style pottery is made with this kind of clay, though usually painted). The camels have glazed blankets, and most of the figures have one tiny gold leaf accent: the wise man's gift of gold, another wise man's crown, the cow's horns, the angel's halo. The lines are soft and simple, more clay suggestions of camel and bridle and robe than detailed carvings. The figures have no faces. It's much easier to ruin a face than to get it right, and an artist should know when not even to try.