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I got my first Nativity scene when I was 10 years old. I attended an activity at our church for elementary school children that was held in the afternoon on Wednesdays. That year we older girls received a paper depiction of the Manger Scene that could be put together into a diorama. I displayed it every year on our piano in the living room. I found it again after I was married, in the closet of my old bedroom. So I brought it to my own home and put it on display in December every year after that. A few years later, I found an adorable little wooden folding set at a California mission gift shop, and that is when I started the theme for our Christmas decorations.
I had never emphasized Santa Claus with our children. We had three born within three years…yes…we knew what caused it. (I answered THAT question a few too many times–laughing politely with gritted teeth.) (We have five children in total.) But, that Christmas when the baby was only a couple of months old, and I no longer had my home daycare income, I knew that Santa definitely was not coming. We knew there would be a few gifts under the tree from the grandmothers. I was feeling sorry for myself when I experienced a life-changing thought: it isn’t about the presents, is it?? So that is the year we started the tradition of celebrating Christmas a little bit each day of December and emphasizing the commemoration of Jesus’ Birth. We had books to read and treats to make, and songs to sing. Santa was involved when they were little, but it was just a little part–not the whole thing.
Nativity scenes became a feature after I found the folk art one from Guatemala at the Santa Barbara Mission, and brought it home to add to the one I’d had since I was a little girl. As the children grew, they knew what I loved for Christmas decorations, and they started adding to our collection. I have some awesome homemade ones by creative pre-teens and several gifted from my husband and our children as they have traveled the world. Yes, I still have the precious one that is now over half a century old, and it is still displayed on the piano where it sat when I was a girl…I inherited the piano, too. I hope you enjoy seeing my collection.
Here is the paper one from 1963. It’s a little raggedy here and there, but I still just love it.
This is the one I bought at the Mission Santa Barbara gift shop. It started my desire to collect more.
This is the first daughter-made one. I think she was 9 years old, and very creative.
It is made from clothes pins and felt. She was so proud to give it to me for the collection.
Pinecones…You can see the gold-painted one to the left is an angel. I especially love the donkey to the right in front of Mary.
This one came home from a church nursery with our youngest, 2 years old at the time. He “colored” the background.
My other daughter created this when she was about 11, in her “miniatures” phase. I put the pen in there to give perspective on the size. The stable is leather strips, and Baby Jesus is a spit wad…
This is a precious one because my friend who made it for me passed away a couple of years ago. She knew I loved Nativity Sets, and was much more talented than I am with crafting adorable things.
Here’s one I found at a craft show when we lived on the shore of the Chesapeake Bay in Southern Maryland. If you know about the oyster world there, you’ll know why I had to own this one!
One of our favorite children’s books was The Story of The Three Wise Kings, by Tomie DePaola, so you can imagine how exciting it was to find this awesome mobile.
This Nativity was brought home to me from Madrid, Spain by a daughter who served as a missionary there.
This one is a matryoshka doll from central Russia, where another of our children did his missionary work. The outer doll is the Nativity scene, the rest of the dolls tell the story of the life of Christ.
Mr. CowGirl traveled a lot in his job, and he brought me this one made of olive wood on one of his several trips to Israel.
He bought this lovely Christian symbol from an Arab shopkeeper in the heart of Jerusalem.
These are not all of my collection. I have a number of snow globes, and some other versions that I found in stores over the years. I just wanted to share a few of my unique ones that really have a place in my heart.
If you celebrate Christmas, then I wish you a most joyous one. If you celebrate other commemorations this time of year, I hope you have a blessed holiday, too. We’re all anticipating a more positive and pleasant 2021!Published in