This is a picture of the Nativity Set I grew up with.
My mother made it when I was about nine years old. She borrowed the pattern from a friend, and spent most of the fall and winter crafting the entire set, which includes animals and shepherds and a barn and a palm tree and all kinds of great things that did not get into the photo. It was a fun time for everyone. My sister and I couldn’t wait to come home from school each day and see which character she’d created while we were gone.
We did have some input into the creation of this little scene. As I recall, the photo on the pattern envelope showed Mary wearing orange (ORANGE!). My sister and I shouted that down pretty fast, thereby proving the power of being exposed to Catholic iconography at a young age. We ended up with the lovely lady in blue in the picture above.
As you can see, Mary has a groovy mate in Joseph, with his hippy hair and brown corduroy robe. If I’m not mistaken, my mom made that beard by wrapping yarn tightly around a warm knitting needle.
The real stars are the Wise Men, though. One sports a flowered turban, the other wears a cape, and the third has some stunning gold rickrack sewn around his robe. They are the last word in glamour. Liberace has nothing on them.
It may not be a grand or impressive Nativity Set … but it’s ours. And I can’t imagine Christmas without it.