This 2020 holiday season is ‘different.’ Much has changed and continues to change. There is no ‘normal’ anymore. But, different doesn’t have to be bad. How we respond matters. To the best of my ability, I choose to celebrate what’s ‘different‘ in 2020. I hope you can, too.

Remember, there is no Christmas tree in the McAllister home this year…that’s different! And that’s okay! Thirty years ago we almost didn’t have a Christmas tree!

As I’m writing this (on my brother’s birthday, the 9th) I realized it was on this day in 1990 I finally decorated for Christmas. “Normal” would have been to do so right after Thanksgiving, but not that year! It was such a ‘different’ year.

I’d just returned from several days in the Des Moines (Iowa) hospital where my dad had surgery. Diagnosis? Cancer. And, Glenn (my brother) was in the USAF, stationed at Lakenheath (England) but had been suddenly deployed earlier that year to “parts unknown.” That’s all he was allowed to tell us. Glenn’s wife and daughter were alone in England and all of us were glued to the news, watching for hot spots and wondering where he was setting up communications, which was his specialty. As if that wasn’t enough to make it a ‘different’ Christmas, Jim and I were heading to San Diego a couple of weeks after Christmas where Travis, our son, would have extensive medical testing at UCSD Medical Center. Shawna would go along, too, of course. All of this added a bit of stress to life, to say the least.

Christmas of 1990 was ‘different’ and my ‘normal’ enthusiasm for decorating was AWOL, but on Glenn’s 39th birthday, I forced myself to decorate our tree for Shawna and Travis. That’s what we mothers do – right? My heart wasn’t in it but I decorated. No normal ornaments. Only tiny blue lights, white pearl garland, and 39 yellow ribbons for Glenn. I asked a florist to make me 38 bud vase bows plus one large yellow bow for the top. Yellow ribbons to say “I wish you were here” and “please come home safely.”

It was a ‘different’ Christmas, for sure; but ‘different’ CAN be CELEBRATED!

UPDATE: Glenn was in Saudi Arabia for seven months assisting with communications before and during Desert Storm which was declared while we were at UCSD Medical Center; thankfully, he came home safely.

So it’s now 2020, and it’s another ‘different’ Christmas. And, I’m celebrating differently by sharing my nativities (as well as my random thoughts) with you. I hope you’re enjoying the Creche Countdown as much as I am! Today, I’ll introduce my Bears ‘n Burlap creche – another rustic but awesome creche in my collection.

It includes Mary, Joseph, and Baby Jesus, of course, surrounded by three wise men, an angel, and a shepherd. I love that Mary is robed in white, but look at those ears peeking through. She’s kneeling, with her hands together. Is she giving thanks for the gift in the manger? The wise men have ‘different’ gifts and ‘different’ crowns. Joseph has a ‘different’ staff. A rust-colored cloak covers his shoulders. I love the aspen tree slice, burlap, and antlers I’ve added to complete this

The faces of these black bear characters are so precious. Beady black eyes seem to stare right back at you. This resin creche, with crisp clear lines and great details, is a sweet representation of what the scene may have been thousands of years ago when Baby Jesus was born in a stable. But there was probably no burlap!

Bears ‘n Burlap is displayed atop a little table in my living room. Written in the wood on the top edge of the back of the drawer is this: “Purchased by C.C.York at Bert Ferkins’ sale – Feb. 1904.” C.C.York was my paternal grandfather; born and raised in North Central Kansas. I love, love, love having this piece of history which I bought at my grandparents’ sale many years ago! (Actually, Christmas 1990 was the first Christmas after his death – another thing dulling my senses on that ‘different’ Christmas!) Anyway, I absolutely LOVE that my grandpa recorded his purchase – so cool! (Can you tell I’m all about family, generations, and honoring the past while living in the present?)

Now…do you want to see what’s sitting under the Bears ‘n Burlap? On the lower shelf of this special table, I have another nativity – imagine that!

This one, I bought somewhere in Nebraska, on their annual Junk Jaunt. My gal pal, Kay, and I found many treasures on several trips. She would drive and I would navigate as we traversed some (but not all) of the 400 miles of garage sales. It’s quite an event that’s well attended. They offer a booklet showing maps of every little town along the route through central Nebraska, and listing every address that was going to have a garage sale. Communities made a big deal of the potential traffic by having concessions or a huge community garage sale in addition to individual ones. Always fun!

Anyway, I bought this at the Junk Jaunt for a whopping $15. It’s ceramic with muted colors and a matte finish. Metallic gold accents add to the overall design. A lone shepherd boy and a nearby burro gaze at the Christ Child. The lighted stable is shaped much like Indian pottery, and a single light provides a wonderful glow. I added two pieces of soft, white fur. An arrowhead, leather strips, and feathers add to the Southwest feel of this creche. Another favorite feature is the absence of faces on these characters. I love it. I have no idea if this is supposed to be fashioned after a certain Native American tribe – I wish I knew – but I absolutely fell in love with it at first sight!

Notice the lighted ceramic cactus – muted colors and matte finish. Can you believe I found THAT at another garage sale (not even on the same trip)? A single bulb in the base illuminates all of the little bulbs. What a find! So perfectly suited for this nativity! I soooo love this unique nativity. Definitely a favorite!

Even though this is a ‘different’ Christmas, I pray the light of Jesus illuminates your heart this Christmas, and I pray it’s one you can celebrate – even if you celebrate differently!


Meet the “head of the household” at the McAllister home…Mufasa! Our (my) beautiful long-haired white cat was hiding behind the reindeer screen yesterday when Jim captured this GREAT picture. I just had to share. Plus, my Button Jar Kids Creche – featured on Day 3 of the Creche Countdown – is on the table above – here’s another look at that one.

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