On the eighth day of Christmas my true love gave to me, 8 nativity sets. O.K. you know that Sara and I have issues with Christmas overkill - it started early with shopping on our honeymoon at the Santa shop in Gatlingburg. But then after about five years of marriage we started collecting nativity sets. Here are my best 8.
1. Faceless nativity from the Dominican Republic. We got this one on a Christmas cruise (the cruise was free - long story) and a port of call in Puerta Plata where we met a walking guide named Jose (true). He took us into the real part of the city and found a cool market where they sold these colorful clay and glazed pottery pieces. Got the whole set (10 pieces) for about $40. Love it.
2. Plastic nativity from Sara's childhood - complete with melted part where you put the blue Christmas light for the star in the back. It's almost ______ yrs old (revealing Sara's age could get me in trouble:-)
3. Handcrafted wooden stable from my childhood that again has a place for a star in the back. It's 44 years old (three years younger than Sara:-) - been around my entire life. It's in mom's room now, but sometimes I wander in and reminisce.
4. Sara also had a cardboard nativity where you put all the characters in the right slots each year. Sara doesn't need the directions any more and it sits under our tree as the first gift every year - Jesus born into the world.
5. On a missions trip to Mexico a year after we got our Dominican one. It's very cool - all the men, Joseph included have the stereo-typical Mexican mustache! I think of those dear Christian friends every time I see it.
6. Two years ago our small group went on a missions trip to Haiti and we bought a hand carved, Haitian, dark wood nativity from some guy who was really nice.
7. About five Christmasses ago Sara bought me a celtic nativity - carved out of some soft stone and in the style of the ancient celtic Christians - kind of stonehenge meets baby Jesus. I have Irish heritage and I love the connection with my people from long ago.
8. Finally, on our tree are very brightly colored glass ornaments that make up the nativity and go in the same place on our tree every year. Sandi Knapp gave it to us as a gift from Russia after one or her trips there.
O.k. I'm going to cheat - one honorable mention - Two years ago in Greece we bought an icon-style painting of the nativity. Very cool. As you can imagine, we have at least five or six others that are very cool...but the number for today is eight.