Advent: The Nativity Tradition

I hesitate to say I am a collector of nativities. Rather, mine are collected. I’m not interested in acquiring more, but only because the ones I have possess sentimentality, tradition and purpose.

This nativity was our very first one and it was a joint gift between my parents and my in-laws. I love it for many reasons, namely that it took us years to build it. We started with just the Holy Family and each Christmas we added to it.

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A few years ago, my mother-in-law gifted a similar set to us. I spied it at a local parish, commented on how lovely and simple it was and the following Christmas I had a set of my own. Today, it sits atop my grandmother’s china cabinet in my dining room.

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Then, there’s the Fontanini set, a gift to my oldest from his Godfather. Again, the set began as just the Holy Family and was added to over the course of many Christmases.

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This nativity was handcrafted by my 4-H county extension agent’s husband. He is a gifted woodworker and this rendition brings back a flood of blessed memories.

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Then there’s the Jim Shore nativity. I bought it on clearance at Hallmark one year only because of an ornament one of the Godmother’s sent my daughter. I fell in love with the woodwork and was elated to find out a nativity existed from the same artist.

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Lest we forget, there is a nativity that still sits in the box after Joseph was beheaded. Poor thing. It would be slightly awkward to just have Mary, Jesus and a beheaded Joseph, right?

Many years ago, my parents traveled to the Holy Land and brought back this masterpiece as a gift to our family. Ever since then, it’s become the “official” nativity. It’s the one we bless at the beginning of the season, it’s the one whose wisemen “travel” throughout our house on their journey to “Bethlehem” and it’s the one missing the baby Jesus. The kids place him in the manger on Christmas Eve, after Mass.

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I love each and every one of these Nativities, all for many reasons. May the Nativity you have in your home bring you joy this Advent!


  1. Verda on December 12, 2012 at 8:24 am

    How beautiful!

  2. Stacy Woodruff on December 12, 2012 at 8:26 am

    I have the Willow Tree nativity. It took several years to collect the whole set, since it’s a little pricey, but I love it. Honestly, I adore pretty much anything by Willow Tree. I just love the simplicity. They tend to be my go-to for gifts, as well.

  3. Nicole on December 12, 2012 at 1:55 pm

    Thank you for reminding me to truly reflect on the nativity and the people who gave them to me.

  4. Shannon on December 12, 2012 at 8:33 pm

    I love all your nativity sets! I have a cloth one that was given to the girls, which allows them to “play with” the pieces and I also got the Jim Shore nativity the year it was on clearance at Hallmark. I absolutely love that nativity and it sits atop our mantel each Advent season. The girls always look forward to getting the pieces out and admiring them, and talking about them. Roger loves woodworking and does a fantastic job…your hand crafted one gave me ideas of a wish list item for him to make me. 🙂

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