Monday, December 10, 2007

Our Nativity Scene

This 1950s family Nativity Scene is right up our alley!

Setting up the Nativity Scene is a very big deal at our house.
We girls are going to miss the big boys this Advent, as the construction of Bethlehem has always been a family affair, involving the lifting of rocks, the building of bridges, the layout of lakes and streams. You just never know. Every year it's gotten more and more elaborate. It usually takes four weeks to complete. We usually start it the first weekend of Advent and construct and tinker with it until Christmas.

We put up between eight and ten Christmas trees every year, too, the skinny, woodsy kind. They're of varying sizes, between three inches and five feet tall ~ and are all incorporated into our Nativity scene. We leave them green and bare around the stable before the traditional blanket of snow falls sometime before Jesus' birthday. The children never know when it's going to snow in Bethlehem; the surprise of it is part of the fun.

Last Year's Nativity Scene before the arrival of the Holy Family.
We liked rigging it upwards like this at our western slope home last year, but the children missed the "cave" effect we get by constructing our scene inside the old, rustic, mossrock fireplace here at the farm.

Have you heard the legend of how the trees near the Babe's crib burst into bloom, and how all the birds of Bethlehem found their ways to the stable on that night to serenade the new Baby? We like to play on this legend when decorating the trees. On Christmas Eve, when everyone but Mommy and Daddy are asleep after Midnight Mass, the trees "miraculously" fill with flowers and birds and beads of every color.

We also have a number of small animals that the children get to place around the stable, but the two little mice (If we can find them this year! St. Anthony, help!) are always the favorite, because they move all around the nativity scene. The children run to look every morning to see if they can find them. (It's as much fun for Mommy as it is for them, too, let me tell you!)

We're running late getting started this year, due to circumstances beyond our control, and are short on muscle since the boys are all at school, so it promises to be a challenge. But, we'll try to post pictures of our progress.

Here's the hearth swept (somewhat) clean and the stable "box" set inside. Watch how it develops from here.


Maryan said...

WOW!! That's amazing... will be watching!

T with Honey said...

That looks fun and beautiful!

I think I heard the legend about the trees and animals before. It sound familiar. But reading it on your blog today it makes me want to build a scene around our nativity so I can make the trees bloom and birds appear for Christmas morning!

Leticia said...

I LOVE this project, and your family's involvement in it for all of Advent.Our nativity is puny compared to yours,but it does have a bit of construction involved. I'll be posting it shortly. This is a Nealpolitan custom, is that your ethnic heritage, by any chance?

Esther said...

Beautiful Lisa! I think we used to do that when we were kids. But somehow we used my Dad's Lionel Train trees, people etc. BTW, I tagged you for a meme on my blog.

Lisa said...

Maryan ~ Hopefully I'll remember to keep posting pictures! LOL! I get sidetracked sometimes... But, this is all-consuming enough, I expect I'll remember!

T-w-H ~ Thank-you. We do have so much fun with it!

Leticia ~ No, actually, we're mostly British Isles (smidge German, smidge American Indian), but, it's interesting that you mention the elaborate Nativities are Neopolitan, as I only just stumbled upon this fact recently, muyself! Goodness, they do it up! Gotta love it! Maybe we have a little Italian in us we didn't know about!

Hi, Esther! Our Maryland relatives used to mix the Lionel trains in with their Christmases, too. I'm told it's a Maryland thing. I wonder why that is? You don't have East Coast roots, do you? (I consider myself tagged, btw... &:o)

Bia said...

Lisa- your nativity brought back so many memories. My Italain grandmother (Nonna) always made this elaborate nativity in her fireplace. There were mountains, and lakes, and, one year, my uncle even rigged special lighting so it would go from night to day (nighttime even had twinkling stars). I love your ideas of the mice and having it snow. What a wonderful way to involve your children in the nativity story. Thanks, and I just might borrow some of these ideas (if you don't mind!) God bless!

Esther said...

Lisa, yes, I am from the East Coast...NJ :-)