Anyway, we played phone tag with the DHL people in Ohio for most of a week before we finally got a hold of a live person. Or at least a live if disembodied voice named Jennifer. After all that effort, a sort of seance if you will to call up the voice, all she wanted of me was a copy of my Social Security card. That's it.
No manifest, packing slip, store receipt, de-tax form, Passport number, or customs form. Just a xerox copy of my Social Security card. The trouble is, I don't remember when I stopped carrying it in my wallet, so I consulted my organizational manager aka Beth. She looked in all the obvious places, and finally found it in my junk drawer.
I haven't decided yet if that's a case of irony or poetic justice, but the fact is that I had relegated the card (given to me in 1976 and signed in a very adolescent style) to a sort of junk pile. This may just be a Freudian error that betrays my basic belief that I am amassing Social Security benefits for all my older baby boomer comrades, and when I become eligible they will have just finished giving it all away.
No matter, it was of critical importance for at least this one time, and with a touch of the fax button, the now disembodied card was wafting toward Ohio to free our imprisoned personages. Two days later, the box arrived, in one piece with all statues intact and the packing material (new clothes and boots) more or less undamaged.
Without further ado, I present to you the infamous Artisanats Personages:
The 15 personages: I don't think they'll be coming down until after my birthday in January.
Two of the magi and their camel (actually, it's a dromedary).
Two shepherds, their donkey, Joseph (in blue) and the innkeeper's wife (Mary needed a midwife, didn't she?).
Mary and the baby Jesus.
Photos do not do this creche justice. The figures are so beautiful, you want to cry. All the ridiculous labor and hassle and waiting has been worth it all. This is art for a lifetime.
I believe I will be repeating the prior sentences in a few months, substituting the word "Katie" for "the figures." I don't think we'll be sending our infant daughter back from China in a DHL box, though. She is one little figurine that I'll be carrying on the airplane.
I'd better start learning some Mandarin soon...