by Cass DuCharme

published in Family Matters eNewsletter, 11/13/14

Poncho, our church’s Live Nativity donkey, died last week. He was 50 years old! Poncho had been in our nativity for the past 15 Christmases. One year, he even starred in the show and told the story himself about the angels, shepherds, Mary, Joseph, the baby Jesus, and the Wisemen. Well, he did have a little help from Jeff Browne, of course.
Poncho was a local celebrity of sorts. His owner, Richard Elrod, told me that Poncho had not only been our nativity donkey but was also one of the stars at the Riverside Methodist drive-through nativity. I understand that he was really a Baptist donkey, because he kicked and nipped the Methodists but was calm and cool with us Baptist folks. Although, when he saw the big angel wings in our nativity, he did hee-haw a little. He also walked in many a Christmas parade in Macon to the delight of all the children.
Some of my fondest memories of Poncho came during the nativity performances when he would nuzzle Mary and then eat some hay out of the manger where baby Jesus was lying. Other memories include Poncho wearing a headset and microphone when he told the story himself, the year when he was too shy to turn to the audience and all we saw was his backside, and last year when we had to have the nativity inside because of rain. Poncho patiently stood outside in the drizzle to greet those coming to the nativity. Poncho also loved being petted and having his picture taken by the children and adults before and after the performances.
We will miss Poncho but another Advent and Christmas season is right around the corner and we must move on. Speaking of Advent, the Hanging of the Green service will be on Sunday evening, November 23. On Sunday morning, December 7, the Sanctuary Choir will present their cantata, Canticle of Joy, during the worship service. Then on Sunday evening, December 14, the Live Nativity will be performed in the Amphitheatre. The Wisemen will be telling the story this year with the spirit of Poncho standing by.
By the way, Mr. Elrod has another donkey that will be making his debut at our Nativity this year. His name is Sam and he’s only 4 years old. That means that, if he lives as long as Poncho did, he should be our nativity donkey for at least the next 46 years.
Rest in peace, Poncho. I hope that those angels up there don’t bother you too much. Thanks for the memories. You will be missed.