Only 13 days until Christmas! Can you believe it? As I finish things on my “to do” list, and cross out the days on my calendar, the reality sinks in a bit more every day. I love Christmas, though. I love the warm fuzzy memories that fill my heart as I think of Christmases past. I also love the anticipation of THIS Christmas!

I’m curious. If you had to think back to all of the Christmases you’ve experienced, do you have one special memory? Do you have a recurring theme that made Christmas special every year? We often don’t take the time during the holidays to just reflect. Too much to do. Too many concerts and parties and events. Too much decorating and wrapping and shopping. Too much frustration when we can’t figure out what to buy for that hard-to-buy-for relative! We’ve all got one, right?

So…take ten minutes. Just ten minutes. No distractions (is that even possible?). Ten minutes to write down ten of your most memorable things (could be good; could be not-so-good) about Christmases past. I’ll reveal MY ten at the end of today’s post.

NOW…back to Day 12 of my Christmas Creche Countdown 2020!

I’d had my eyes on it, but it wasn’t meant to be. Too many pieces. Too pricey. Most of you have seen it and some of you may have it. Demdaco’s popular Willow Tree Nativity. One Christmas about 20 years ago my husband Jim, our daughter Shawna, and our son Travis, blessed me as I found myself unwrapping box after box of these precious figurines. Through the years I added trees (from the Hutchinson Hospital gift shop) and a stable (from who knows where) but I won’t be adding to this set anymore – I have no room! No room in the inn? No! I have no room on my shelf!

The stable is unique – a tri-fold made of rusty tin with openings cut out and leather straps holding the three pieces together. It’s compact but so cool. I love how it ties in so well with the metal-look details in the other pieces – the shepherd’s hook, Joseph’s staff, angel wings, and gifts from the wise men. The angel, though it’s a Demdaco, didn’t come with the nativity. And, those trees. Those heavy trees! They’re a great size to frame this creche on the shelf and complete the look, don’t you think?

One year – several years ago – I left this nativity out all year. Summer visitors may have wondered if I was late in taking down Christmas decorations or early in putting them up, but no one ever asked! It graced our living room so wonderfully for 365 days! It just felt right, all year, and who knows? I may do that again.

Susan Lordi is the designer-extraordinaire of this set; one that’s displayed every Christmas at the McAllister home, whether or not I pull the other nativities out of storage. I’ve always loved the Willow Tree angels, so I love having the same well-crafted, faceless characters (and animals) in this classic nativity. There is something very calming about it. Very serene. Though faceless, the body language artistically conveys love and adoration in this cherished gift from my three favorite people – Jim, Shawna, and Travis!

In kindergarten, children learn about Show & Tell. As writers, we are challenged to Show Not Tell, meaning we are to use our words in such a way that the reader can SEE (or smell or feel…) whatever it is we are describing. We want our readers to smell lilacs as we describe “their fragrance, caught by the gentle wind as it embraces the heavy branches overhanging Grandpa’s rickety porch.” Can you see that bush, heavy with blooms? Can you smell the lilacs? Be careful on that rickety porch! Writers use words to engage your senses. Sometimes it’s easy. Sometimes, not. Sometimes it takes effort we can’t invest at that moment, but it’s something for which every writer strives!

Think about that as it relates to these nativities. What can be conveyed without words? What can be conveyed in faceless representations? A plethora of “stuff,” that’s what!!!

This tiny creche – my Egg Creche – is made by “Los Artesanos” in Peru according to a tag on the bottom. It appears to be carved of some kind of white stone. Individual pieces inside of this egg-shaped stable are crafted and glued in place: Mary, Joseph, Baby Jesus in a manger of hay, three wise men, a sheep, and a cow. Tiny faceless figures once again conveying a 2000-year-old story recognizable to all peoples across all continents (well, almost). How can artisans do such delicate and intricate work, and do it so well?

My next one is even tinier (but not my smallest; it’s still coming!). My Canoe Creche has no tag, no markings but my guess is it’s from Bolivia or Peru or Argentina – somewhere in South or Central America. What do you think? It’s quaint and unique and cost only 49 cents. That’s MY kind of nativity. Another recent find at a thrift shop. So…who’s with the Holy Family in that canoe? Well, a sheep, ram, and llama (I think). Don’t you just love this? I sure do.

Next is my Stained Glass Creche. Simple, yet beautiful. I’ve really come to appreciate the work of stained glass artists, and this, I love. Six flat pieces of glass – three, textured but clear and three, colored. Add to that four glass beads – three, clear and one, colored. But, an artist takes these scraps, skillfully adds a little metal work, and look at the outcome. If an artist can do so much with broken scraps, how much better can a Master Craftsman do when He makes us in His own image! We are God’s works of art. Each one of us. Simple, yet beautiful.

Another precious little nativity sits upon blocks that spell out the words SILENT NIGHT. A mixture of clay and metal brings to life the Holy Family in this sweet little creche. I love the childlike features and the primitive look of this piece as well as the addition of the metal accents. Look at those little faces. Check out the body language again. And the precious halo. I love the detail of the hay and the hair! So sweet. Silent Night, Holy Night, All is Calm, All is Bright…go ahead and sing it with me. I am! Sleep in Heavenly Peace!

I promised to share my 10 top memories of Christmases past…let me do so before introducing my last creche for today. I hope you’ve taken the time (or will do so later) to list your top 10! Here are mine, in no particular order. Perhaps, some of these will become a blog post – there are DEFINITELY stories held within these top 10 memories. And yes, I had to stop writing this blog long enough to come up with these ten. This was a challenge to myself, too, when I made it a challenge to you above!!

  1. Snowbound 24 Hours on the Highway
  2. Our Yellow-Ribbon Christmas
  3. Grandpa’s Last Christmas & that 4 am call
  4. Decorating for Christmas – trees, ornaments, garland…
  5. Family Gatherings – food, fun, cousins, laughter, great memories
  6. Friends – soup suppers, creche countdowns, Secret Santas, Advent Angels
  7. 1973 – our newlywed Christmas
  8. Christmas Branson-style (anniversary trips)
  9. San Antonio Christmas @ Lackland AFB
  10. Jesus Christ – The Reason for the Season, Luke 2, Happy Birthday Jesus!

Okay…I’ve introduced several nativities today. Oh, how I love them all.

Then I challenged you to think of your top ten Christmas memories – share yours with me sometime. Of today’s nativities, which one do you like best? (I still have one to add) What’s your ALL-TIME favorite so far? Keep sending messages. I love hearing from you and thanks for following my countdown. I love that you love it, too.

Christmas blessings to you and yours!

Now, here’s the last creche for the day: Simple and Sacred. It’s similar in design to one I shared on Day 4 (check it out if you missed it), but a bit bigger. I have another one I’ll share later which is also made by the same artist.This creche gets its name from the words etched on the base: “This is the touch of Christmas…The simple…becomes the sacred…” Thought-provoking words. On a glittery textured base, you’ll find Joseph, Mary, Jesus in a manger of hay, and one lowly sheep. The thatched-roof stable adds great detail and a gold star is perched high above. That star led the wise men to the newborn king. The word ‘simple’ is perfect as a descriptor of this creche. Simple lines. Simple muted colors. Simple message. Simple truth: God sent His son. God’s simple yet priceless gift was sent to save us…to save the world. We are definitely a people in need of saving. That truth becomes more evident every day.

But, God has a plan. He always has. We must simply believe in Jesus Christ as our Savior and accept Him into our lives to be saved.

A simple message! A sacred truth!

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