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Alexis' 2006 Christmas letter
A magic Internet sleigh-ride around the globe

"Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way; oh, what fun it is to ride in a one-horse open sleigh!" But the horses were two, and the sleigh a 1918 friend's sled—but what did it matter? The almost 5-ton horses pulled ever so gently; their bells sang sweetly; the snow kept falling; an elderly friend in a wheelchair got a ride—and the spirit of Christmas was in the air...

From the attic of a one-hundred-and-ten-year-old Victorian to you, warm Christmas Greetings and best New Year Wishes…

Crèchemania's Home draped in snow.
The attic of our 110-year-old Victorian used to house a sweet-smelling cedar closet and was full to the rafters with boxes and an old steamer trunk that marked my first translantlatic passage to the New World.

Now it is filled with computers, scanners, electronic hubs, and the two T1 lines that are my on-ramp to the Internet. Oh, yes, and did I also mention a few hundred creches? You could call it Crechemania Central.

As I write these words I'm reminded how far I have come from the village in Greece where I grew up in the 1950s. Sadly, almost everyone I knew has passed away, or left the rough soil of our mountainside for better opportunities in Athens. Still, especially at Christmas, my mind returns to the place where I was born.

A time when our home was filled with the sweet smell of wood smoke and mom's koulourákia cookies. When a present meant being the lucky one to find a small coin, baked—for good luck—in our Vasilópitta (St. Basil's Bread). Our villagers depended on olive oil as their cash crop, and some years the yiedl was poor or nonexistent. All everyone I knew could give was their best wishes. In the city, where I moved when I was nine-years-old, there might be a few drachmas left over for a paper nativity for a child, and a Christmas card for friends and far-away family members, but not much else.

From far-away Brazil comes a Christmas present—the ArchesCrèche—a Free Download‚ from our friend Celso Rosa: it's the season of giving.
That tradition—a new paper creche for Christmas—continues today. But so much else has changed: how could I have imagined growing up, when we told time by a passing train or a passing satellite (10 p.m. on the dot!) that one day I would be sharing my words and my love of creches with you—my friends and fellow enthusiasts—around the world on a magical sleigh that is the Internet?

That in 2005, amidst the hubbub of a busy life and the latest X-boxes, widescreen TVs, and other electronic toys, that anyone would pick up scissors, glue, and paper and create a 3-dimensional tableaux of the Nativity—that they downloaded on the Web? I am not alone, it seems, in marveling at these simple paper constructions, these marvelous tableaux of the of the Nativity, that have so captivated our hearts. One could say paper creches are the poor man's art—notwithstanding some of the fancy prices they fetch nowadays on Internet sites!—but they are so much more:

"Recently, I have renewed my love for vintage paper crèches," writes Jennifer Hooton of Salt Lake City. "I think one of the reasons they appeal to me so much is because they remind me of days gone by, when life was simpler and Christmas was less commercialized.

"The artwork used in antique paper crèches has a stylized, old-fashioned look which makes me feel like a child again. Seeing a crèche always gives me a renewed sense of our reason for celebrating: our Savior was born! It warms my heart to know that so many others like myself in the Crèche Guild also share this love of such a sacred symbol."

Jennifer Hooton shares a 1940 vintage creche.
Jennifer sent us one of her nativities to include in our free downloads, and one of our enthusiasts named Sheri can't wait to get started: "Today is our first day of snow for the season," Sheri writes, "and my ink cartridges are full, heavy paper is in the printer — so let the printing begin!"

But Jennifer sent us something even more precious than her vintage creche—a reminder of the true meaning of Christmas:

"The Vintage 1940 Nativity I am sharing with you reminds me of my parents, who well remember the 1940's.

"This nativity was made just a few years before my father was drafted to serve in World War II, at age 18.

"It comforts me to know that such an emblem of peace was created at at time when the world was in such turmoil."

History, they say, repeats itself, and our world knows turmoil once again. But as Christmas nears and our crèches once again take center stage in our homes—if indeed, they ever left it!—we look again with wonder at the miracle unfolding in these colorful depictions as it once unfolded in the hills of Judaea.

Let's pause our sleighs for a moment and listen. Can you hear the angels' song?

"Peace on Earth and Good Will to Men."

With Warm Wishes for Christmas, and Every Day of Every Year,


Alexis Collection

© 2021

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