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When we were small, my mother sang us an alternate version of the Christmas carol “Away in a Manger” because we were upset by the factual error of a baby who supposedly didn’t cry (being the eldest of three, I knew what a lie this was). In our version, Away in a Manger went like this:

Away in a manger,
No crib for His bed
The little Lord Jesus
Laid down His sweet head
The stars in the bright sky
Looked down where He lay
The little Lord Jesus
Asleep on the hay
The cattle are lowing
The poor Baby wakes
And little Lord Jesus
What crying he makes
But Mary his mother
She nurses him
And baby Jesus
Falls back to sleep
Needless to say when I joined the Holland Area Youth Chorale as a teenager and tried to insist on singing the song my way it didn’t go over so well. Not just because it was “non-traditional” but because there was nursing! And probably some blasphemous implications that baby Jesus wasn’t a perfectly angelic being.  But also nursing! (This was the same youth chorale that had issues with the word “breast” in a song about a robin. As in the bird.)

Our contemporary, American culture is so freaked by breastfeeding and I don’t really get it. I’ve known enough folks for whom nursing didn’t work that I know better than to be all “breastfeeding is the only responsible way to feed your infant” about it. But I also don’t understand the politics of disgust and outage that surround nursing in public places.  What is particularly fascinating is to realize how recent a development this is (or rather, how recently the pendulum has swung back from the free-to-be-you-and-me 1970s). Gwen Sharp @ Sociological Images posted clips from Seseme Street recently that depicted women matter-of-factly nursing infants on screen. Here’s one of them:

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