Monday, December 15, 2008
My Christmas Passion
I confess, I have a passion. It encompasses all that is Christmas, the music, the decorations, the food, the lights, the smells, the sounds, the increased love in the air - but I also love nativity scenes. I love how different cultures present the manger scene of the Christ Child and his loving parents. I made my very first one on Long Island, New York in 1978. I poured it, cleaned it, painted it, glazed it, and it's beautiful! It is also a very popular design and everyone else seems to have one - but not just like mine because I put a blue wash over the white paint, then a pearl glaze. Though I now have close to 100, it is still one of my very favorites.
My daughter has also become passionate about collecting them for me as she travels all over the world, (could one reason be that she will inherit them?) She brought this from Vietnam, with the Holy Family carved from driftwood and sheltered under a lovely slab of beautiful driftwood.
The biggest, and the one that gets the most comments at the Creche Festival, is one I had made in Armenia. At the Vernisage - Art Market - I asked a lady who made dolls in Armenian costume to make me a nativity set. She didn't understand nativity. "Mary and Joseph and baby Jesus?" "Oh," she said. "Miriam, Hoseppi and Hesu." Yes! The next Saturday I went back and they were finished. Then I asked for shepherds and wisemen. We eventually settled on the translation for that and I had a lovely beginning set. Each Saturday as we "helped improve the local economy," I added to my set which was now becoming a village. Other vendors made delightful donkeys and goats and sheep, which added to my eclectic collection. But the most fun was trying to describe a camel. I didn't know the Armenian word, and she didn't understand, so I found a toy camel and took it to her. She made three (for my three wisemen) and her 90 year old mother got in the spirit and made one out of bits and pieces of red fabric and trim - Glenn calls it my sunburned camel. (It's on the far left in front.) There are white-haired villagers, a wedding couple, dancers, soldiers, a little wagon drawn by a burro with flowers in his saddle bags, a woman with rolling pin, one with water jug, one carrying a tray of rice and even chickens to complete the village scene. Mary is holding baby Jesus right behind the sheep in the photo.
This Zulu nativity is a small one from my Africa collection - I have them from Zimbabwe, Tanzania, and several other countries. Next time I'll share more with hopefully a little more expertise in manipulating the pictures and text. No matter what the language, the message is the same: Jesus came to earth as a babe in Bethlehem to save us from our sins. I'm eternally grateful for that knowledge and my testimony of it. Merry Christmas in whatever language you prefer!