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A Spanish Nativity Sheet, Courtesy of Our New Friend Antonio Garcia

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From Spain, Antonio Garcia — a Classic Comics and nativity enthusiast — shares Cuadros del Rosario, a vintage nativity…

Cuadros del Rosario, Rosary Boxes, a colorful, vintage, Spanish nativity sheet, Antonio Garcia's offering to crèche enthusiasts.

 Antonio Garcia is, "Dedicated to preserving Spanish classic comics, and belén — nativities."
Every time I drive up to an ATM and see, "Press 2 for Spanish," I think about how much I'd love to brush up on the language I started to speak even before I did English, in Ms. Chesebro's Seventh Grade class.

Well, here's my chance:

"Hola amigos belenistas," said the note sent to the Crèche Guild, "Me presento soy español de Pilar de la Horadada (Alicante) España, jubilado, coleccionista de belenes de paper, me llamo Antonio Garcia y desearia intercambio de belenes con vosotros, por internet.
Un saludo muy cordial. Antonio Garcia."

Since English was a second — or should I say, third? — language for me, I smiled at the accompanying English translation: believe me, I've been there.

"Hi friends Bethlehem: I'm Spanish presented by Pilar de la Horadada (Alicante) SPAIN, retired, collector of nativity of paper, my name is Antonio Garcia and exchange of cribs I wish to you, internet. A very warm greeting. Antonio Garcia"

But it wasn't Antonio speaking English — but a computer. "The translation is on the Web," Antonio says.

So here I am, speaking with a fellow crèche enthusiast across the ocean — and neither of us speaks the other's language.

And what a wonderful conversation it has been.

But, as you can see from the bright nativity sheet at the top of the page, words aren't the only thing Antonio has been sending me through the World Wide Web.

Some enthusiasts may think most of the fun is arranging all the pieces of your table-top nativity — Cuadros del Rosario, courtesy of Antonio Garcia.
Not only did he sent me this beautiful Cuadros del Rosario (Rosary Boxes) vintage nativity sheet to share with you, he also made sure it was scanned at 300 dots-per-inch (d.p.i.) At that resolution, your printout should rival the original!

Measuring 12.25 x 8.5 inches, Cuadros del Rosario brought to mind all those colorful nativity sheets of my childhood. The only difference is that this sheet has Spanish, not Greek, letters on the upper right side: El Nacimiento Del Hijo De Dios En El Portal De Belén.

I didn't need to click on Google's nifty translator to read, "The Birth of the Son of God In The Portal of Bethlehem."

It seems — and I'll have to ask Antonio to be sure — that this may be the third in a series of sheets from Salvatella Editiones, Barcelona, because the words, Misterio De Gozo, (Third Joyful Mystery) also appears on the nativity sheet.

I remember seeing such sheets when growing up in Greece: The First Joyful Mystery — The Annunciation; or The Second — The Visitation; The Fourth — The Presntation; or even The Fifth — The Finding of Jesus In The Temple.

Why didn't my adoptive parents put a few Joyful Mystery or Nativity sheets along with the real ones in that big trunk headed for "Sioux City, Iowa, U.S.A.?"

Perhaps Antonio and his group of enthusiasts might even have one or two. Or perhaps you do? If so, I'd love to hear from you.

 The Bible: From Adam and Eve to Abraham — one of the Classic Comics Antonio Garcia and his group are electronically preserving.
But, let's get back to Antonio, who is delighted to share the nativities he loves. He's a collector of all types of cut-outs, he says, but belén (Bethlehem, in Spanish) are his favorites. "Now," he adds, "I have also been dedicating myself to Spanish classic comics. Our group has been scanning them all, in an effort to preserve them."

One look at my Classics Illustrated collection tells me that Antonio — who's the administrator of Grupo de Tebeos-Classicos, (Group of Classic Comics), and his friends are doing God's work. And I pick up some of my very old nativities with kid gloves, lest they fall apart in my hands.

Because it's a matter of time before the acid, that discolors the image, also the paper brittle. Given enough decades — horror of horrors! — the paper disintegrates. (See the tell-tale signs on Cuadros del Rosario, above?)

Antonio, who is a retired accountant for a big building supply company, also sent me three Portal de Belen nativity sheets from the now-defunct children's magazine Flecha Roja (The Red Arrow).

But I'll have to brush up on my Spanish before writing to you about those three little treasures.

Gracias, Antonio. Saludos cordiales desde Crechemaña.


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