Decorating for Christmas: Nativity Scene Becomes a Favorite

Associate Editor Jean Teller shares the story of decorating for Christmas, and tells of her mother’s many holiday decorations.

Nativity Scene

Nativity scene with baby Jesus, Mary and Joseph is a favorite Christmas decoration.

Photo by marinv

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My folks made Christmas a special time for me and my younger sisters, with lots of decorations, fun and love.

I remember decorations all over the house. I’m sure my mother didn’t have those in the early years, particularly when I was very young, but she certainly has them now – many large boxes tucked away under the basement stairs. She has collected so many that each room in the house sparkles with a touch of the holiday.

For many years, our family made trimming the tree a group event. With four girls dancing around a large evergreen tree and throwing silver tinsel icicles, I’m sure my parents occasionally wished for a miracle tree to trim itself, but we always had fun. We turned on the stereo to blast Christmas carols – on vinyl records – through the house, and exclaimed as each ornament made its appearance. We would pester Mom to once again tell the story of how a certain ornament came to be in the collection.

The nativity scene takes its place next to the tree. Setting up the crиche has always been one of my favorite activities of the season. The silvery star is illuminated by a blue light hidden in the rafters of the stable. This light is on most of the time, as are the lights on the tree. The placement of each figurine has always been a delicate and deliberate undertaking for me, particularly when I was younger.

At my own house, I have a simple wooden nativity scene that takes center stage on a green linen napkin when I set up my ornaments. Two ceramic angels, crafted and painted by my Great-Aunt Elsie, stand guard over the nativity scene, and garland and lights are draped along the mantel. I also have glass or gourd ornaments hanging from small stands – gifts throughout the years – that stay on the shelves year-round, and handcrafted angels hang from the entertainment center. In addition, I have many candles. My way of thinking is that dark winter days and festive holidays are perfect times to set those candles flickering.

For me, it just isn’t Christmas without all the decorations lovingly strewn about Mom’s house. The green sequin-covered runner made by my maternal grandmother loudly proclaims “Noel” on the dining room table. A door hanger, made of felt and bells, dangles on the front door and tinkles its welcome whenever anyone enters the house. Handmade reindeer or a small army of Santas adorn the dining room’s server. And collections of pinecones, nestled with Christmas balls and beads, gather in large bowls placed around my childhood home.

I’ve attempted to emulate my mom’s special holiday touch in my own home. Her extra touches are part of the loving spirit that permeates in my family homestead during the holidays. This is only one of the reasons I love to go home for the holidays.

Want more nostalgia from the Capper's Farmer family? Check out Capper's Farmer Christmas Traditions and share your own in the comments below!