‘Tis the Season…The Collection

 

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.

Origami…

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!

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  1. AUMom Member
    AUMom
    @AUMom

    Excellent post! Thank you. You have inspired me to worship as I put mine out this afternoon. 

    • #1
  2. She Reagan
    She
    @She

    Cow Girl: I got my first Nativity scene when I was 10 years old.

    I was younger.  It was the creche under the stairs at #5 Farquhar Road, my dad’s family home.  Lifelike and huge.

    Cow Girl: I was feeling sorry for myself when I experienced a life-changing thought: it isn’t about the presents, is it??

    Oh, so been there.  No, it isn’t.

    Cow Girl: 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.

    I found my own such scene in Venice (Italy, for those of you who are so self-absorbed that you think it has something to do with California), when I ran across a little wooden jigsaw puzzle that had nothing to do with you.

    And, thank you, @cowgirl, for all the lovely links.

    • #2
  3. Jimmy Carter Member
    Jimmy Carter
    @JimmyCarter

    I enjoyed Yer post.

     

    Cow Girl: Baby Jesus is a spit wad

    Words I never thought I’d read. Cracked Me up. 

    • #3
  4. DonG (Biden is compromised) Coolidge
    DonG (Biden is compromised)
    @DonG

    We have this same set.  It is nice and made of carved olive wood.  I bought it from a kiosk in the nearby shopping mall.

    Cow Girl:

    He bought this lovely Christian symbol from an Arab shopkeeper in the heart of Jerusalem. 

     

    • #4
  5. EB Thatcher
    EB
    @EB

    Love your different Nativities.

    Have you seen the Patience Brewster sets?  Different in character, but quite nice.

     

    • #5
  6. Full Size Tabby Member
    Full Size Tabby
    @FullSizeTabby

    The figures are an olive wood set my parents bought the year they lived in Baghdad, Iraq (about 1952, before my time). The shelter was made by a friend about 15 years ago.

    • #6
  7. Cow Girl Thatcher
    Cow Girl
    @CowGirl

    EB (View Comment):

    Love your different Nativities.

    Have you seen the Patience Brewster sets? Different in character, but quite nice.

     

    No, these are adorable! I like the elephant in this bottom one.

    • #7
  8. Cow Girl Thatcher
    Cow Girl
    @CowGirl

    Full Size Tabby (View Comment):

    The figures are an olive wood set my parents bought the year they lived in Baghdad, Iraq (about 1952, before my time). The shelter was made by a friend about 15 years ago.

    Isn’t it interesting that in Baghdad, way back then, they were able to buy a Nativity set. That is quite a precious heirloom!. When I was in 3rd grade (1961) my teacher and her husband had spent time in Afghanistan when he worked for the Agriculture Department, I think…it was such an unknown exotic location, and I knew nothing about it  until she brought in a collection of clothing, dishes, and other paraphernalia that they had from their years spent in a place I didn’t know existed to I was motivated by her to find out about it. 

    • #8
  9. Shauna Hunt Coolidge
    Shauna Hunt
    @ShaunaHunt

    The Nativities are so pretty! Thank you for sharing them! I recognize the top one.

    • #9
  10. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown
    @CliffordBrown

    We grew up with a porcelain set. The Baby Jesus got lost in a move but Mom improbably found a source for a replacement decades after the original casting.

    This post is part of our Group Writing Series under the December 2020 Group Writing Theme: “’Tis the Season.” Stop by soon, our schedule and sign-up sheet awaits.

    Interested in Group Writing topics that came before? See the handy compendium of monthly themes. Check out links in the Group Writing Group. You can also join the group to get a notification when a new monthly theme is posted.

    • #10
  11. Front Seat Cat Member
    Front Seat Cat
    @FrontSeatCat

    I can’t decide which is my favorite – they are all wonderful. Your paper one is tops, but I love the spit wad and the Spanish set. I inherited my aunt’s nativity, which I grew up with. I placed it on my living room book shelf and a funny thing happened when the late afternoon sun comes through the window. It went straight for the manger. So I place it there each year and it happens everyday:

         

    • #11
  12. Cow Girl Thatcher
    Cow Girl
    @CowGirl

    Front Seat Cat (View Comment):

    I can’t decide which is my favorite – they are all wonderful. Your paper one is tops, but I love the spit wad and the Spanish set. I inherited my aunt’s nativity, which I grew up with. I placed it on my living room book shelf and a funny thing happened when the late afternoon sun comes through the window. It went straight for the manger. So I place it there each year and it happens everyday:

    Ooh, that is really neat how the sun does that! Nice…

    • #12