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Missing pieces

Updated: Nov 15, 2019

By Neil Allen


The problem with collecting anything with more than one piece is the inevitable missing piece(s) problem. A trip to the local Thrift Store usually reveals enough evidence to prove this point.


Recently, a dear friend started finding these missing pieces and sending them to me via the mail. Each week as package after package arrived on my doorstep, I realized I had to say something. "Thank you for thinking of me, but please stop" was all I could offer to this dear soul that was heart broken to find them laying in the bins abandoned.


It's hard enough to feel like you're leaving orphaned children on the street without food by not adopting these, but harder still to realize there is no end to the missing pieces saga.


One of our FOTC members recently brought boxes filled with assorted pieces from post-war Italy. The boxes were laid out and orderly. 30 or so Marys filled one cardboard container and laid next to a box filled with an equal number of Josephs....and on an on....It would take only a little effort to put a matching set together, but our friend made a strong point, "If not us, who?"


It usually starts with the theft of Jesus, or a cat wandering across a ledge, or shaky hands (my problem), and suddenly, a set once treasured has lost a piece.


One of my sets was rescued from a Ten Thousand Village shop. Someone had taken the baby Jesus from Mary's arms. The blessing of that theft was the nearly impossible view of Jesus (if you put the set high enough), so Mary is left holding a rock (a representation of Peter?), and I display the once $400 set with Joseph's broken cane high on the top shelf, with Joesph looking over the crowd for the guilty party. Someday I'll fix his cane to look less like he's about to hit something, but for now I leave him standing in a threatening way, just to make a point (to myself I guess).


I'm sure you have a missing piece story....I pray it's just one of the kings, so when people ask "Why does that set only have 2 kings?" you can say as I do, "Oh, he's out getting Starbucks for everyone."




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