Child in a Manger: Chapter 9

Unlike Brock, who sleeps soundly the night after the kiss (pfft, men, amirite?), Allison doesn’t sleep a wink and drinks a “thermos of coffee” before heading into work.

Do people really make thermos’s of coffee when they’re home alone?  Why not just make a potful and drink it by the cup?  Is this a thing?  I’m a tea drinker, I guess I wouldn’t know.

Allison has spent most of the night coming to terms with God’s plan for her…or not.

She hadn’t been content before, not really.  Resigned was a better word for it, a word that brought no glory to God if he really did want her to lead a single life.

Well, if this God guy is directing things, being omniscient and omnipotent and all, then he did indeed want her to lead a single life…right up until the moment when he didn’t want her to lead a single life.  And if Brock is indeed the guy God chose for her, God didn’t even give them an opportunity to meet until a few weeks ago.

What if God had a different plan for her life other than the one she had formed in her own disappointment and convinced herself to accept?  What if He’d never intended for her to be alone and had planned to answer her questions in His time?  What if she hadn’t been listening?

What if there was no God, and Allison was simply grafting her own expectations onto the events in her life and assuming it was all from God?  What if there was no reliable way to discern when God was talking, and when she was simply hearing her own internal monologue?

Unsurprisingly, when Good Christian Allison has a change in her plans, she doesn’t conclude that it’s because God was wrong, or God didn’t give a damn about her dating life, or God wasn’t around to care about her dating life one way or the other.  Instead, she attributes it to her not properly listening to what God was saying all along.

She thought back to that night at the live nativity.  Not once had Brock considered that Joy’s mother would return for her the way Allison had hoped she would.  That he’d been right didn’t make the fact any less telling.  Brock probably wasn’t the man for her.

Yes, because if there’s one thing you don’t want in a life partner, it’s the ability to see reality.  Much better for the couple to share a childish naïveté.  That way, you can always be disappointed together!

Allison’s boss, Clara, takes a refreshingly flippant attitude towards Christmas:

“All the toys are broken, the CD’s are scratched and none of the clothes fit, but it was all mistletoe and holly for us.”

Ha!  Love this bitch.

Allison gave her boss a sad smile, wishing Clara, too, could know the true meaning of Christmas.

Sorry we’re all not as great as you are, Allison.  Stomping on a man’s heart on Christmas Day and all.

Allison’s poor, pitiful, unsaved boss heads off to work, and Allison reflects on a recent case…

…on five-year-old twin boys whose parents would be in court later in the week.  The boys would forever bear the scars of the accidental fire they’d caused while their parents were out partying, but Allison resigned herself to the reality that those boys would be going back home.  She could only hope that the court-required drug counseling and parenting classes had taught the parents something about caring for their kids.

Yeah, Allison’s rose-colored glasses are so helpful to her!

Based on that case, I can’t imagine why Allison is so hopeful that Joy’s mother will come back.  Didn’t she just prove to herself that blood is no guarantee of good parenting?

Oh, hey, Joy’s mother is back!


She’s a sixteen-year-old from Ohio named Tracie Long.

Allison calls Tracie’s parents, who give permission for Allison to sit in on the interview with Brock.

Ooo, bet Brock (I keep typing “Brick” today!) won’t be happy with this development!

Obviously, he didn’t have an ounce of compassion to spare for the petite teenager who cowered the minute she saw him.

He was being so impossibly insensitive that Allison wondered why he didn’t just snap the handcuffs on Tracie right then.

Okay, she’s alone and scared and obviously has no support, so I do actually feel bad for this girl.  Still, though, this girl left a newborn in an outdoor piece of scenery in the middle of winter, so I don’t feel incredibly bad or anything.

Neither does Brock.  When Tracie asks about the baby’s health and eating habits, he cuts in:

“You lost the right to ask questions when you dumped your baby in a feeding trough.”

Is it bad of me that I kinda cheered for Brock (just a little, in my head) at that line?

Tracie reveals that the baby’s name is Christina Marie Long, which Allison, of course, doesn’t like.

Allison rolled the name around on her tongue, but it just didn’t sound right.

I’m sure it doesn’t.  I’m sure Joy Chandler sounds better.  😉

Tracie’s parents were totes embarrassed by their unwed teen mom daughter, and the baby’s father (not granted the dignity of a name) “doesn’t want anything to do” with them.  Big surprise.

“Did you think if you deserted the child, he would take you back?” [asked Brock]

Allison and Tracie are both “shocked” by this question, but really, I can’t blame Brock for asking.  I would wonder the same thing.

Tracie did, indeed, end up at the shitty motel, having run away from home to “build a life for herself and baby Christina,” which is undoubtedly the best plan EVER.

But then she realized “how little she had to offer her child,” and saw an ad for the live nativity scene, and decided that was the ABSOLUTELY PERFECT place to dump the kid.

“I knew she would be found.  I knew she would be safe.”

She would have been safe if you had just given her up for adoption in the first place, silly kid.

A point which is not lost on Brock:

“You must think she deserves a life in foster care because that’s what you’ve given her.”

Allison (slightly) softens the blow to Tracie of her dumb decision…and the possible criminal charges that might result.

“Deputy Chandler is trying to say that no matter whether you were trying to do the right thing for your child or not, you still broke the law.”

“…you’ll want to consider the option of signing a voluntary termination of parental rights so that your baby can be adopted.”

No kidding, huh?  But Tracie seems open to that.

“God had special plans for that first child found in a manger.  I’d hoped the Father might have plans for my baby, too.”

Um, okay, honey.  Just want to remind you, however, that the baby in that story wasn’t found in a manger.  He was put there by his parents, who were there with him.  He wasn’t found by someone who dumped him there in the cold and ran off.

When Tracie’s parents arrive, they have a conference with Allison, and Brock is left to his own devices.  And, of course, he thinks about his own abandoning mother:

…for the first time, child abandonment seemed to have its share of grays.  Tracie—he wanted to think of her as “the suspect,” but he just couldn’t—had left her child, not because she didn’t love her, but because she did.  The realization tempted him to wonder about another mother and another set of circumstances.

Okay.  Still, though, Tracie came back to check on her baby within three days.  Madeline hasn’t been back in twenty-five years.  So, yeah, I guess I’m still on the Didn’t Love Him (At Least, Not Enough) side of things.

But Brock does have a pretty healthy breakthrough, concluding that whether Madeline loved him or not, he ended up with “his real family,” “in a home built with more than bricks and mortar but constructed of love for family and for God.”

Obviously, I don’t consider that the last is necessary, but at least Brock seems to be moving on.  So we’ll see if Allison’s naïveté and martyr complex lead her to browbeat Brock into admitting that Madeline was secretly the bestest mommy on the planet.

Next time!




Posted on December 23, 2014, in Books, Child in a Manger, Christmas. Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

  1. Allison gave her boss a sad smile, wishing Clara, too, could know the true meaning of Christmas.

    The true meaning of Christmas is sleepless nights. angst, and thermoses full of coffee, apparently.

    • That’s exactly what I was going to say! True meaning of Christmas is to drink coffee and try to deduce whether god wants you to be single, or god wants you to marry the guy you just met, or god wants a teenager to abandon a baby so you can overhear a police officer’s uncharitable remarks about the baby’s mother, which is god’s way of letting you know that this not the man for you. If only everyone could have a Christmas like that!

  2. I’d hoped the Father might have plans for my baby, too.

    Aww. I wonder if Allison and Tracie will bond over their shared magical thinking.

    • I was hoping the mother would make an appearance so we could know why she chose such an odd place to abandon her baby. But this was way funnier than I expected! “Baby Jesus was in manger and God had a plan for him. So I put my baby in a manger hoping God would have a plan for her too.”

      So… a manger is kind of like a Christian version of a Sorting Hat, then? Insert infant here to be assigned a divine life plan. That must be why Allison is having trouble: Her parents didn’t put her in a manger when she was a baby. And now she can’t figure out whether God is calling her to be a Hufflepuff or not.

    • It’s at that line when I start feeling sorry for the girl, stupid as it was to leave a child outdoors. It indicates she has grown up in a community where this sort of reasoning (Allison’s sort of reasoning, really) is considered normal. And that’s also the kind of enviroment that would’ve slut-shamed her into oblivion if she’d gone through official channels to help her with a pregancy she didn’t want, had planned on or was ready for. And that’s not even getting into the shitstorm if she’d asked for an abortion instead of adoption.

  3. Well, I was demanding that Allison owns up to her own actions and how they might have led her to her current single state. So this is progress. Too bad she’s still framing it as god having a perfect and specific plan that she has to abide by. Now she’s rejecting her free will while simultaniously blaming herself for not interpeting god’s obviously clear and unambigious messages about the plan.
    That perhaps god hasn’t laid out one single hidden path for her, with misery and misfortune to its left and right, that’s something she never even considers. She can’t even get her head around the idea that she has a choice to make on her own. It’s sad, really. I think the slacktivist did a post about the anxiety of fretting about God’s-Increddibly-Detailed-And-Specific-Plan-For-Your-Entire-Life brings. Allison sounds like a textbook case.

  4. One might regard Allison’s mental state as a harmless rationalisation of her inability to take control of her life, but the same line of thinking leads to “Ain’t it great how God hates all the same folks I do?”

    The phrase “found in a manger” does show up in Christmas narratives, but of course it’s because of the Wise Men.

    I don’t know how it works in Transpondia, but here in the UK there’s generally no problem at all finding people to adopt a newborn or very young baby and raise it as their own. For the most part it’s the kids who are a bit older and have already developed their own personalities who end up in care homes instead.

    (Or to put it another way, as someone once said: lots of couples say “we want a baby”. They very rarely say “we want a teenager”.)

  1. Pingback: Deconstruction Roundup for December 26, 2014 | The Slacktiverse

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