The genesis of this letter to the editor is almost self-explanatory, but for the sake of
clarity comes from repeated vandalism, over several years, of the Christmas display in downtown Wilton, CT. In the last instance, the infant doll in the display was taken, and later replaced, spraypainted black. The town's Christian community, especially the Kiwanians who sponsored the crèche, were incensed and looked for vigilant means to stop the desecration.
The case of the ever-disappearing baby Jesus from the crèche in downtown Wilton
is one whose solution is obvious. The main problem is that if you donít replace the infant figure it appears to be a sign of victory for the perpetrators. There are actually many solutions. The following mutually exclusive solutions seem to be the likliest of paths to follow.
- An infant must be constructed of reinforced concrete as an inseparable part of the manger assembly. Bolted to 1" thick steel plates, and joined to the main structure be either welding or rivets, it would be a deterrent to the insistent youngsters, as well as create a whole new ceremony of construction and demolition each season.
- As was suggested in the 1927 film, Ben Hur, the figure of the Christus is too holy to be represented by a real image anyway, and should be suggested only by a Ray of Light. A strong halogen source hanging from the rafters could be used, not a known target for plaster-infant snatchers. This does, however, raise the exposure of Joseph and Mary (the presiding angel being arguably of no interest to anyone, even those with bad taste).
- Under the tutelage of the Aldridge Museum of Modern Art, the crèche should be packed chock-a-block with various doll-babies, each donated by a child of various denominations from Wilton. The whole crèche should then be covered in Lucite and admission charged to defray the cost of this "Work in Progress."
- A radio-controlled baby Jesus with a homing device should be constructed by Wilton High School students. The figure would, by remote control, incapacitate the perpetrator rather like an automatic car boot and would beep until the police arrived.
- Perhaps mollifying the sensibilities of the perpetrator, and thus deterring further theft, the infant could be constructed out of fresh tar, and upon touching it would not only defile the would-be thief, but would hold him or her firmly in place until help could arrive via Officer Br'er Fox of the Police Department.
- The figure could be constructed entirely of razor wire and needles, and have a deep tiger-trap trench dug in front of the manger, and that covered with dry twigs. Beneath the scroll citing "Good Will Toward Men" would be appended a warning sign with suitable language limiting the town's liability.
- A Web-cam should be set up at strategic parts of the intersection (and one in the head of the angel). Internet sites with the pictures would be bookmarked at the Wilton Library, and a 24/7 surveillance begun, volunteered by teams of students, coordinated by the Wilton Police. Edited selections from the broadcasts would appear on the local cable access channel as a relief from the Planning and Zoning meetings. Further, anyone caught on tape tampering with the ill-fated figurine would be compelled to assume the role of the child, appropriately swaddled in restraints, in the manger. (If there are other accomplices, they may be compelled to take the parts of the Ox and the Ass.)
- Finally, a placard might be placed in the empty manger reading "Out to Lunch" or more to the point, "Whom do you seek? He is not here."
After all, despite any action taken over mindless vandalism, the message taught by the vandals is that the sight of a crèche is charming but redundant. If a non-partisan spirit of Christmas prevails, the images are always in our hearts, without the need for anything further, and safe from any thief whatsoever.
Respectfully submitted, &c.