Collecting Nativities

I told you guys when I showed you my dining room that seasonal decorating in my family is an Olympic sport.  To be honest, all the other seasons are really like the Olympic Trials… CHRISTMAS is the real deal.  I could easily walk into any of my aunt’s homes and photograph magazine worthy Christmas Decor.   Maybe next year I’ll see about that as a blog post, but this year you are in luck because I’m at my parents for a few days and got the chance to photograph some of her extensive collection of nativity scenes.

And when I say extensive I mean over 400 nativity scenes from countries all over the world. Some are life size, some are tiny, some beautiful, some absurd, some have meaning, and some just struck someone’s fancy. But they are all on display. Every year. It takes her and my dad a full two days to decorate and another two to un-decorate.

There are literally nativities EVERYWHERE in the house: in every room, on every surface, several that hang in the Christmas trees.  You could spend hours looking at all the nativities, and even though I grew up with most of them, every year I see one that is new or I just haven’t looked closely at before.


My parents host three major holiday parties each year, and this year’s theme was A Swedish Christmas, which I’ll share more details about on Friday.  (Because I really can’t do my mom’s Christmas decorations justice without four full days… you’re welcome).

I thought today I would share some of my favorite nativities and some of the more beautiful ones.  Tomorrow I’ll show you some of the more bizarre unique nativities. Thursday I’ll show you her two Christmas trees and then Friday will be the Swedish Christmas Decor… so stay tuned!!

Mom and Dad moved into this house a little over 9 years ago and when she was decorating for Christmas found these fabulous A frame shelves to display some of her nativities on.


As you can see, each shelf has several nativities on display.


I like this one, and if you were a good woodworker it probably wouldn’t be too tricky to make:



In front of their house they have a life size nativity which my mom’s friend painted and mom clothed for display in front of their house (they are painted plywood with stands)



This guy is made out of cornhusks:


This one is painted and is just wide enough to sit on the ledge above the fireplace:


One of my favorites, this one hails from Mexico.  It was one of my grandfather’s last gifts to my mother before he passed away unexpectedly before I was born:


I love this one for all it’s vibrant colors:


This is a newer addition that was handcrafted in Africa:


My mom actually loves African things, so there are no shortage of African nativities, like this one:


Or this one, which she carried home in a suitcase from Rwanda (Joseph and Mary are each almost 2 feet tall to give you a bit of perspective):


I also really love this one, mostly because the manger really feels rustic and realistic to me:


This one is beautiful and intricate, the actual piece is about 4″ x 4″ to give you an idea of the intricacy in its art.  It was made by a member of one of my dad’s churches and it is intricately cut paper in many many layers.  Talk about a labor of love…


The last one I’ll show you is a Native American nativity that mom has nestled among feathers and is a beautiful:


And y’all, this is just the tip of the iceberg.  And stay tuned tomorrow because there will be rubber ducky’s and moose involved.  Yes. Moose.

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