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Ledyard - Sometimes a treasured family tradition rests on the slimmest of foundations.
Consider the case of Christine Whipple who, visiting her mother about five years ago, noticed something was different about the manger set up on the living room table.
"I was looking at my Mom's Christmas Village she set up every year along with the nativity scene," Whipple says. "And I noticed that the baby Jesus was missing. I wondered what happened to it so I asked where baby Jesus was."
Whipple's mother, Silvia Davis, said only that "it broke and she had to throw it away. But she didn't tell me how it broke, till my father overheard the conversation," Whipple says.
"He piped in and said that she chucked baby Jesus at him. My father, who is a big joker and dramatic, said he saw it come whizzing past his head."
In her mother's defense, Whipple describes her father, Lynn Davis, as an "instigator."
His teasing "just ticked her off," Whipple says, and so she grabbed the nearest thing that came to hand - the ceramic baby Jesus already away in a manger - and hurled it at her husband.
And so a special family tradition began.
"Every year we tell this story around the table," Whipple says.
And each year whenever someone kidnaps a baby Jesus from a creche, as someone always seems to do, and it gets reported on the news, "we can't resist calling my mother to see if she knows his whereabouts or if she had anything to do with it," she says.
"It's become our big joke," Whipple says. "It's like watching 'Home Alone' again. You know all the jokes, but you laugh all over again."