Unwrapping: Working It Out On Paper
Transformation. . . on the Cheap

Steeped in Tradition: The Nativity

When I was a little girl, I loved everything about Christmas.  I especially loved all the holiday decorations my mom would put out on display:  the Santas, the little trees, holly leaves and berries, choir-boy candles.  I loved it all!

There was always one thing I wanted, though, that we didn't have in my childhood Christmas decoration collection:  a nativity set!


Oh, how I coveted a nativity set!  When we would visit someone else's home, and they had a nativity set up for the holiday, I would just stand there and look with longing.  I wanted to touch the figures; to move them and arrange them.  They just seemed so magical and exotic to me as a child.

But, alas, I went through my entire childhood without a nativity scene!

I swore that, one day, I'd have a set of my own.  So . . . as an adult. . . I began collecting Fontanini nativity pieces.  I started with the basic holy family (Mary, Joseph, and baby), and added a piece each year.  Wise men. . .


Shepherds. . .


Angels. . .


Animals of all types. . .


Until, really, I had to declare a moratorium!


From her very earliest Christmases, Erin loved the nativity set.  (In fact, one of the reasons I chose to collect Fontanini pieces is that they are made of resin and are durable enough for chubby toddler hands to touch without worry.)  Each year, she helped me choose the newest pieces to add to our collection, and, until a couple of years ago, Erin served as my Official Nativity Manager.  She unpacked it each year, and carefully set it all up.  When she was young, she arranged and re-arranged the figures several times each day.  (As a child, she called the pieces her "Bible Action Figures.")   As she grew older, she used to have some fun making up dialog and setting up interesting scenes and groupings with the various characters in the nativity. 

Now, though, she's on her own, and not around to manage my nativity anymore.   So it's mine!  All mine!  I love getting the pieces out each year, and carefully setting them up.  It takes me back to my own childhood longing . . . and ties me to Erin's growing-up years.  At first, I thought it might be hard to set up the nativity without Erin, but, really, it isn't!  When I unwrap each piece, I smile and remember her joy -- and it really feels like she's present . . . right there in my nativity! 

And as for Erin?  Well.  I started her off with a Fontanini nativity set of her own a couple of years ago.  She was quite excited to set it up for the first time in her own apartment this year.  She thought her set-up looked a bit meager, though, with just the holy family and a small angel. . . so she and her boyfriend added a few proxy pieces to the manger scene.


I don't know about you, but I think they've begun their own, entirely unique, nativity tradition!



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I also love nativity sets. It's the reason for the season...
Erin & BF's additions to theirs made me laugh! Now that's a nativity with personality!


:D I love your setup this year, Mom. But I think it needs more pokemon.


When Caitlin was around three she decided that 'Baby Jesa' needed a fluorescent yellow dog that she had got from a Christmas cracker. Every year to dog is taken out and put by the crib - it is the perfect size!

A later addition from the TY Beanie stage is a huge TY Teddy Bear Angel tha is hung from a strategically placed branch of the tree!


We never had a nativity set, either, but I don't remember wishing for one. I did make a counted cross stitch one (on paper!!) years ago and I put it on my mantel every year. I wonder now how I had the patience for that. Yours is beautiful and I love your memories that go along with it.

Diana Troldahl

I've never had a nativity scene, either.
I love Erin's interpretation!


I love it! Ya know, the Holy Family really did need more security. ;^)


Whatever puts her in the spirit of the season!
My mother had a very nice nativity which is now in one of my sisters homes. She loves it as much as Mom did!


My daughter was the same!


another GREAT post!! we don't have a nativity in our house... concession to my jewish husband who lets me have three trees, stockings, a wreath (and christmas :-), but it was a favorite part of my childhood tradition. funny - the angel that hangs on top of my tree (our ceilings aren't high enough for a "real" tree topper) looks just like that one you posted - I wonder if it's fontanini? but my biggest smile was seeing erin's manger scene. those characters do call to mind the true meaning of the season, don't they? everyone and anyone is welcome.


Diversity is a good thing. ;o)


Oh my, that's fantastic!!

My grandmother made (and taught) ceramics for years and I have a beautiful porcelain set she made for me -- I haven't set it up in quite some time, though. Perhaps this year...

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