вторник, 4 декабря 2012 г.

My Nativities

By Jamie White Wyatt

"And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn."
~Luke 2:7

The first person I knew who collected nativity scenes was Ruth Maldonado. I saw her collection during a couples Sunday School party in her home, and I was enthralled! Not long afterward, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that my mentor, Mavis, was also a nativity collector. I found out about her passion when Mavis hosted an open house to share her nativity collection with friends and neighbors.
The seed was planted! A tiny Guatemalan nativity, presented as a hostess gift from Steve Hanes, a pilot friend, and his wife, Nancy, launched my nativity collection.

I started in my home. My husband, Ed, and I each had nativities from our childhood. I had also inherited several nativities from deceased family members and friends. Over the years, I had accumulated an assortment of nativity Christmas ornaments. My collection was well on its way!

I began to seek out nativities as souvenirs during our travels. Friends and family added to my collection on special occasions.

Over the years, my collection has expanded to more than a hundred nativity sets with figures and animals, and another hundred or so nativity ornaments. My collection includes unusual items such as cookie jars, a tea set, a hot chocolate set, a mobile, a platter, candleholders, an Advent wreath, and nativity jewelry. The nativity figures range in size from less than half an inch to over three feet tall.

There are nativities in almost every room of my home at Christmastime, including the bathrooms! I have nativity scenes from travels to Italy, France, Spain, England, Mexico, Africa, and parts in between. I have metal, glass, wooden, ceramic, and gourd nativities. I have nativities made by my children, and I have nativities made by well-known artists. All are special to me because of the memories they represent. Most importantly, my nativities are precious because they represent the birth of Jesus.

Several years ago, due to family issues, I "skimped" on holiday preparations, and didn't unpack all of my boxes of nativities for Christmas. I was simply too tired to spend additional hours unpacking, and then repacking, my entire collection. The thought of any more holiday decorating, in addition to all my other responsibilities, seemed overwhelming.

My "main" nativity scene, a large ceramic set, complete with stable, painted by my friend, Kaye, which always adorned the dining room buffet was conspicuously absent! I got comments and questions about the "missing" nativities. Christmas didn't seem quite the same without all of our nativities. However, the tradeoff of not being totally exhausted during the holidays seemed worthwhile to me at the time.

After Christmas, as I started packing away Christmas decorations, I wondered what it would be like not to have to put away the decorations each year. I found myself looking at curio shelves in my dining room that held the ceramic dog collection that I inherited from a long-deceased cousin.

I have fond memories of sitting on the floor playing with the dogs. Good memories, but I didn't have an extreme emotional connection to the collection. I suddenly realized that the dogs were taking up prime real estate in my dining room, which could be used to display my small nativities! I also realized a corner china cabinet in my dining room, and a painted bookshelf in my living room could house some of my larger sets. I went about the task of arranging most of my nativities into their new, year-round, homes. (By the way, I found a new home, in a guest bedroom, for my cousin's dog collection.)

I still have to unpack and repack a few of my largest nativities each Christmas as I decorate our home for the holidays, but unpacking the nativities is no longer the chore it once was! Seeing my nativity collection every day reminds me that we ought to celebrate our Savior's birth all year long, not just at Christmas.

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