J.P. Devine’s creche is seen at his home. Photo courtesy of J.P. Devine

There it is. The old creche. All the players are intact. I lost the angel that hung above the Christ child, but found it a year later.

But there is the infant and the father and mother, three souls, having found a safe, warm place to sleep. Now I can get back to this troublesome column.

Some years ago, I wrote a column called, “They’re Coming.” No, it wasn’t about Martians. It was about bad luck America.

California was, as usual, on fire. New Orleans was, as usual, underwater. The other southern states were, as usual, being blown away by daily tornados, sometimes hourly.

At that time, New England and Maine magazines, commercials, movies and Christmas dramas showed New England as America’s last safe oasis.

They pictured rocky beaches, lobsters, pine trees, lobsters, lighthouses. In other words, a movie Maine.

Word came that the suffering bad luck Americans were pulling out of their disasters, and looking for a calmer climate. “Oh boy,” I thought, “they’re gonna come here, and I’m gonna get a dream price for this old house, and we can move to a condo.”

In the spirit of promoting what I had enjoyed all these years, I sent brochures to old friends my age, sick of smog, the house next-door catching fire and crime.

For example, I touted the tax advantages of shooting movies here, turning Gerry Boyle’s Maine mysteries into films, stories that had parts for aging ex-Screen Actors Guild members.

For a while it looked like it might work. My film agent daughter agreed. Old writer and director friends agreed.

Then America’s worst nightmare came to the White House, and my idea turned as sour as a White Russian left on the beach. Everyone refilled their pools and blenders and went back to sleep.

Then some fool left his campfires burning somewhere, and California went up in flames, along with Oregon and Washington state.

“Now,” I thought, “all those folks would surely be looking for a safer place to rebuild and start a new life, and we can get the condo.”

Indeed, some did start packing, sent out resumes and started thinking about Maine and Vermont.

I got excited. Colby was changing the face of Waterville, and it was a pretty one.

Hold on. The fickle middle finger of fate struck back.

While Washington wasn’t paying attention, a historic tidal wave pandemic came to America, an avalanche of death and suffering.

All turned to gloom. Still, Mainers held the lantern aloft and refused to let the dark wind blow out the welcoming candles in our windows.
“Come home,” they whispered. “There’s room in our inn.”

For a time when most of America was turning red on the NBC map, we were staying yellow, then we turned beige and then dark orange.

Still, we put the candles in the windows.

It’s December in Maine now, and despite the terrible numbers, our candles are lit.

We love this house. It’s a warm safe place for us, so I guess we’ll stay.

Tonight I’m putting up the tree, and She is busy thumbing through catalogs for gifts.

Come Christmas Eve, I will load up the batteries in the candles and fill our windows.

You never can tell. Three souls in the dark — a young couple: a father and a mother, with a baby — three souls, might just be walking by looking for a safe warm place to sleep.

J.P. Devine is a Waterville writer. 


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