Becoming the Nativity Set:
A Family Tradition
My parents bought their first nativity set in 1972—an East German carousel-like set with a fan blade that rotates with the heat of several small candles. Since then, their collection has grown to more than 150 nativity sets, each unique. The scenes come in every style imaginable—made from stone, glass, yarn, eggs, repurposed fence posts, bamboo, metal, quilled paper, yucca plants—and range from petite tabletop sets with three pieces, to elaborate scenes made with 15 or more figurines the size of small dolls. Each Christmas, my parents retrieve their hundreds of nativity boxes from the basement, and my dad, a retired Presbyterian pastor, meticulously arranges each in their appropriate spot.
While my brother and I were visiting my parents at Christmastime a few years ago, my dad, who has a terrifically goofy way about him sometimes, stopped in the TV room carrying an oversized basket filled with oranges and, in a French accent, asked us if we wanted any fruit. At that moment, I said, “Dad! You look just like someone in our French Santon nativity!” And moments later, a tradition was born. …We could be IN the nativity!
Thinking quickly, I (still in my PJs) ran upstairs to get my camera and found an old St. Lucia apron my parents had saved; my mom pulled up close to my great grandmother’s antique spinning wheel; we found Dad a chapeau; and my brother donned a stocking cap and walking stick. My brother then photoshop-ed us in to the already arranged set. Here was the result:
2011– Maine Nativity
2012- Nativity from the American South West
2013- A rolled newspaper nativity from Vietnam
Over the years we’ve gotten more creative with costuming… and official with the “green screen.” We do try to re-purpose “props” from what we already have in the house. It’s a riot coming up with ideas for which set to do next.I love this tradition–even if you don’t have 150 nativity sets, you could certainly find pictures online to imitate. If you do…post them here or on the Faith and Wonder Facebook page!