Friday, December 3, 2021

Too Many Nativities?

Nah!  No such thing. 

One thing we have a lot of around our house during the Christmas season is Nativity sets.  I love them so, SO much--all different kinds and styles—and I'll probably never stop collecting them.  (Or maybe I should; read on, and you decide.)

For many years, the centerpiece of our Christmas decor was the most amazing oversized Nativity set, which we ordered from a Catholic church supply catalog.  There are about 20 painted plaster figurines in all, and the tallest of them are about 12 to 15” in height.  The camel is enormous! The first year we set this Nativity up, we didn't have a creche for it yet—because really, where would we find one big enough?  So eventually my husband built one himself, out of scrap wood left over from his many carpentry projects in our NH house.  We would set the whole thing up on an 8-foot long folding table behind our family room couch, and it was glorious sight to behold.

We took a photo of our boys in front of it for our 2000 Christmas card.

This will be our fifth Christmas in our VA home, and we haven't been able to put this large Nativity set out yet.  There really isn't a good place to display it (good meaning safe, because we have lots of curious little people visiting us these days).  The NH house was a Colonial with big rooms that had walls, and doorways that could be blocked off with baby gates; the VA house has an open floor plan and the downstairs is almost like one giant room, making it so that the grandkids can run around in a giant circle, starting from the kitchen, through the dining room, past the living room, past the family room, and back to the kitchen again...over, and over, and over.  (And every time we have a family party, by the end of the festivities, they do!) That breakable Nativity would surely not survive the chaos.  

But even though we haven't been able to showcase our church-worthy Nativity, we still have lots of others about the house.

Lovely Nativity scenes appear on the robes of some of the hand-carved and hand-painted Russian Santas my husband used to bring back from his trips to Moscow as an airline pilot.

This sweet and simple set was gifted to me by my younger sister last summer.

This little beauty is very special to us.  My mother-in-law made all the tiny figurines in her ceramics class and gave the set to us for Christmas in 1980, two days before we got married.  She made them in white but told me to paint them if I wished; so I did, and now I think of this as a Nativity set that we made together.

I used to collect these Possible Dreams Santas—many of them gifts from my mother-in-law—but I made myself stop when I hit a dozen.  ( I might have a problem...)  This one holding a creche is my favorite.

Before sons #3 and #4 got married, they worked together in VA and shared an apartment.  One Christmas, they pooled their resources and bought me this large Willow Tree Nativity set.  I think they went overboard...but boy, do they ever know what their mom likes!

I do need to add the star, a carved olive-wood one that my husband brought back from the Holy Land;
but I haven't located it yet!

Earlier this year we had visitors at our parish. They were Holy Land Christians whose livelihoods had been hurt when Covid put a halt to international travel; without tourists, they couldn't sell enough of their carved olive-wood souvenirs.  They were selling some items after Mass, and we picked up this beautiful musical Nativity (when you wind it up by turning the star, it plays "Silent Night"!) and the exquisite bust of Jesus.  I recently discovered the tiny wooden Nativity on the left for 99 cents at Goodwill—and I believe it is also from the Holy Land.

Son #3 and his wife gave us this gorgeous gold-and-silver carved image of the Holy Family a few Christmases ago.  (My daughter-in-law loved it so much that she ended up getting one for their house, too!)

Our youngest son gave me this Willow Tree Nativity as a Christmas gift a number of years ago.  It's actually an ornately decorated hinged box that opens up to reveal those beautiful images.  (I think he went overboard, too; are you seeing a pattern here?)  On either side of it are Russian Santas adorned with hand-painted Nativity scenes.

So I miss being able to set up the Nativity set that played a big part in our Christmases for decades; but I’d say we’re going to survive pretty well without it, wouldn’t you?


  1. Hi Mrs. Pearl! These are just lovely! I honestly don't think there ever could be too many. Thank you for sharing. I am patiently (well, trying anyway!) waiting for the day we set up our nativities.

    1. Hi Sister! Lovely to see you here. God bless you this Christmas season and always!

  2. Your various Nativity scenes are beautiful!

    I love the Russian Santa's incorporating the Nativity on their clothing. Early in my time in Oswego I had to be here instead of home with my family (work duties). When I went to Christmas Mass they had Santa bring the gifts to the alter. You could have heard a pin drop in the church, I think old and young alike were in awe. It was wonderful.

    1. That does sound wonderful! I love that popular figurine of Santa kneeling by the manger. Do you know the one? It's beautiful! It reminds us of the true reason for the season--and that it's okay to enjoy the magic of Santa Claus, too, as long as we remember that it's all about the Birthday Boy! XO

  3. Laura, my mother, Katherine, your grotto buddy, also collects nativity sets. I believe she has you beat in numbers. <3

    1. My kind of gal, I love it! I’m still accepting new ones, if any of my kids are looking for a gift idea...😂