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Alexis' 2007 Christmas Letter
Memories of Christmas past…
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A candle-bedecked Christmas tree supports the revolving angels in my new pop-up vintage nativity which also features a beautiful depiction of Joseph, Mary, and Child (above).



Memories of Christmases past are awakened by a Mormon Tabernacle CD, and a quest for a precious childhood crèche comes to an end... Merry Christmas!


You may download, print, and assemble Jennifer's Magi Crèche.
My childhood wasn't all about paper nativities: there was also my first aluminum Christmas tree. It was enchanting watching the color wheel rotate, turning silver to red, green, blue, or yellow.

It was also the time I discovered my first Whitman punch-out nativity at our local Kresge's, of downtown department stores filled with shoppers, of sweet Greek Christmas pastries, and of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir on our B&W Zenith television that kept us enthralled.

These long-ago memories were awakened recently by a letter I received from Utah with a "Spirit of the Season" a Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra CD. I'm listening to it now as I write these words, and it takes me back to my youth when, unable to speak English, I spent endless hours with my paper models.

The wonderful CD was accompanied by a card written in beautiful calligraphy:

"Dear Alexis,

"Thank you for all you have done for me and all of the members of the Crèche Guild. This paper crèche hobby has brightened my life forever! With much love and appreciation, Jennifer Hooton."

Jennifer has shared a treasured crèche (You can download, print, assemble, and enjoyJennifer's Magi Nativity.) — and treasured memories — with us: “I received my first paper creche when I was ten," she writes on the nativity she has offered as a Crèchemania download, "and every year I display it at Christmas. It reminds me of days gone by, when life was simpler, and Christmas less commercialized."

I treasure letters like Jennifer's. Because of the touching sentiments, and because my Crèchemania dream was to reach people who love nativities just as much as I do.


Chrissy Jones' nativity.
Chrissy Jones is one of those people.

"Hi there! I have a paper nativity that is precious to me, but I am missing some of the pieces. I am wanting to know if anyone recognizes it and can give me information or (if they own it) if they can make a color copy for me of the missing pieces. If you will email me, I can send a picture of the nativity via email. Thank you in advance for your kind consideration, Chrissy Jones."

I had never seen Chrissy's nativity before, so I was of little help, but then, a few days ago, there was a follow-up note:

"After 10 years of looking on the Internet and contacting others such as yourself," Chrissy writes, "my precious childhood crèche showed up on eBay last week. My sole purpose in sharing this with you is so you will tell people to never give up!"

Naturally, I wanted to know all about her childhood crèche, and Chrissy was kind enough to share her nativity story with me. Reading it, I realized that she just about written my Christmas letter for me:

"Hi Alexis! Thank you for your email and your interest. As requested, I will share with you the story of my nativity.

"I was not raised in a particularly religious home. When we did attend church it was at a large Baptist church, and beautiful nativities were usually not part of the tradition.

"My family had acquired a small cardboard nativity when my aunt taught in the public schools. Back then she used it as a display in her windowsill. When she quit teaching, it fell to us. I begged to have it in my room. I was little then, maybe 4 or 5 years old.

"I faithfully set it up on my dresser every year, and loved it so much. I would just stare at the little pieces, each one beautiful and fascinating to me. It remained my favorite of all Christmas decorations. The soft lines and lovely colors told on paper a story that can hardly be put into words.

"I distinctly remember the year the barn crumbled. It was old and worn, and it was thrown away (not by me!), and each year afterward I missed it.

"Yesterday my father reminded me that during the year I kept the remaining pieces in my top dresser drawer, and took them out regularly to look at them. I had forgotten that!

"More than anything, in my little girl way, it led me to worship a Father I didn't know much about, and a Child who came to earth. I thought long and hard about a Mother who would care for the child. I was fascinated that God would be willing to come to earth and be placed in a manger. I was stunned by the humility.

"Fast forward several years. I was 21 and moved away from home with my new husband. At Christmas, we looked through my Christmas boxes and the nativity was nowhere to be found! In one small box we found just five of the remaining 10 pieces. I was heartbroken.

"The prospect of finding a new nativity was daunting. Internet use was fairly new, and eBay had only just begun. Besides, how was I to search for a cardboard nativity with no known origins? No box, no title, no artist, nothing at all to go on! I felt helpless to find it again. I showed the pieces to friends, asked my aunt where she purchased it (she bought it in the 70's and couldn't remember), hunted garage sales, called Catholic and religious stores, and prayed.

"Turns out the prayers worked. Just a few days ago on eBay, my beloved creche showed up in perfect condition! My sweet husband told me to bid $100 just to make sure I got it, but thankfully it sold uncontested for $9.99!

"I hope to have it in my hands, home, and heart in just a few days. But the 10 years of waiting have been a blessing in disguise. First and foremost, I didn't realize how much this nativity really meant to me. Also, I didn't realize there was a whole world out there of beautiful cardboard crèches.

"In these 10 years of searching I have acquired three other crèches (although none have I loved as thoroughly as my original), and I have read stories from other aficionados that brought tears to my eyes.

"I laughed with understanding as I read Alexis' recount of sending a replica to his priest and requesting his original be sent back. Another author wrote of his instinctual understanding that these were not "toys" and it resonated with me. To be honest, I wouldn't take back a minute of the search. That being said, I plan to make three backup color copies and scan the originals.

"Merry Christmas, and may the Lord bring you the desires of your heart."

—Chrissy Jones

How beautiful. What's there more to say?

Only to repeat Jennifer Hooton's wishes, that I address to each and every one of you: "May your Christmas be blessed with Joy and Happiness."

—Alexis



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