Shop the Paper Model Kiosk!

A soldier's nativity
"I discovered the Crechemania site earlier this year," Syler writes, "and it has become a heartstring family link for all of us with each other and with my son, who is serving in the army…" It was only a matter of time before a special nativity was on its way to Iraq…
Syler Womack
"A crèche — any crèche — is heaven on earth."

"We have admired many other crèches," writes Syler Womack, "the best ones being those in which my own children portrayed the characters for Church nativities and Christmas parades — but we treasure our humble little stable with the hand-painted chalky figures."

"A crèche, any crèche, is heaven on earth," says Syler Womack.
Dear Alexis,

I am so humbled to be represented among your wonderful friends.

I have been so inspired by their stories and their love for that exquisite divine Moment which is forever new to us in the variety of crèches.

Whether they are old friends, or sparkling new representations, the heart-breaking Joy is always there — that paradox that makes us want to fall on our knees; on our very faces — and fly with the angels at the same time.
Just to tiptoe into that Presence as we do each time we stand before the Crèche — any crèche — is Heaven on earth.

I can't remember if I received my first crèche for Christmas in '59 or '60, but I do remember the major "campaign" to get that gift instead of any other. It was a major departure for my very Protestant family! Not that there were any actual moral objections, it's simply that they had never known anyone who wanted a crèche, and my
family was very "tradition bound" (if we've never done it, it shouldn't be done).

Oddly enough, my main ally was my Southern Baptist Grandmother — a fine old Southern Lady, but also a definite "no nonsense" survivor — talents she learned as a widowed mother of four during the Depression. She was crippled and unable to walk, and it was very difficult for her to be cheerful, but she had a real appreciation for everything fine and beautiful, as well as a true intuitive adoration of Our Lord. She understood far more about him than she had ever been catechized to know.

Anyway, when I declared my desire for a crèche, it was she who overcame the initial dread of the unknown which gripped my mother and it was she who began calling Catholic shops until she procured the name of a company from which to order my Christmas present.

It was also she who sent back two of the figures and had them replaced because she wasn't satisfied with the representation.
I'm smiling as I write this, because I can still hear her explaining in that very young and beautiful voice she retained even though her body had betrayed her, that she wanted a beautiful Mary.

She must have made her case because I remember that the crèche company did indeed send the replacements she requested.
And so it was the Infant from this crèche which my son took with him to Afghanistan in 2004, which in turn prompted me to search for a paper crèche for him to have in Iraq.

That's how I found Crèchemania! Forrest now has the crèche which you so thoughtfully provided for him, and thus he has all of Christmas, even when he cannot attend Mass.

He so enjoyed assembling it that I sent him every download I could find on the site, which should provide him with Christmas activity all the way through Epiphany!

Of course, I couldn't resist trying my own hand at the beautiful little crèches, with the result that I can hardly walk through the house without stopping at each bookshelf and table-top to admire them. I even became brave enough to construct one of the beautiful, complex fold-out Christmas cards, which delighted my elderly German friend in Comfort, Texas. How magical! I had not seen such a card since I was a tiny child in the 1950's.

That first crèche which my grandmother acquired for me, has, of course, been one of the main focuses of all my Christmases since. I love setting it up each year, and I loved watching my five children set it up from the time they were old enough to walk.

Each figure is as well known to me as an old friend. I know the expressions on the faces, the shades of the paints, the attitudes of each.

Through the years I have added a couple of sheep, and one of the boys added a small GI Joe soldier figure about 15 years ago. He stands to one side and salutes the Holy Family. He has become a permanent part of the crèche (and fortunately, he is exactly to scale. )

We think he is especially important right now, as he stands there for all the soldiers who are far away from home and family, but can still worship the Baby on the Holy Night.

We have admired many other crèches — the best ones being those in which my own children portrayed the characters for Church nativities and Christmas parades — but we treasure our humble little stable with the hand-painted chalky figures, with a few little additions like the tiny trees and the camel driver I found alone in a sale bin after Christmas. I couldn't leave him there. He had to come home with us and worship at the crib.

Now, every year, he follows the Wise Men, not yet aware of the Baby, still gazing skyward at the Star! But we know what Joy will be his in a mere few steps as he rounds the corner of the stable and stands before the Word made Flesh!

Merry, Happy Christmas!

— Syler

More about Syler Womack:

© 2022

Image 01 Image 02