When I was 15 years old, my parents decided the family would travel to southern California for Christmas to see our extended family. I have lots of crazy stories about this trip, and I won’t bore you with them at this time. Except for this one thing that relates to what I want to tell you about.
Karen is so much better at giving memories and relating them to the now than I am. Hmmm.
So anyway. I was 15, a sophomore in high school, and headed to Cali with my family. Oh, and I was turning 16 on Christmas Eve (Suckiest 16th birthday ever. I got socks. Lots and lots and lots of socks. Not even interesting ones. White socks.). That year in school, I was taking honors English from Mrs. Post and we had just finished a unit on Native American literature. Fascinating stuff, by the way. I highly recommend researching and reading up on this stuff. We really learned a lot about different tribes and their cultures, so I was still really into this as we travelled through New Mexico and Arizona.
Our family stopped in Tombstone, AZ. If you’ve never been to Tombstone, GO! It’s soooooo much fun! Real touristy and kitchy in some ways, but still a lot of fun. You get to see the OK Corral and there’s a saloon and the graveyard with all the headstones that have the funniest sayings in the world on them… so yeah. I loved it. As we were going through different gift shops, I found a Nativity Set that was beautifully carved from wood and painted with bright colors. The people looked like Native Americans from the Southwest, and the stable was like an adobe house. I. Fell. In love. It was at that moment that I knew I had to have Nativity sets of different makes, of different cultures, of different countries. I wanted to collect Nativity sets.
I was unable to buy that set that day. I’m still upset about it. I just didn’t have the money for it. Instead I bought a small sand painting (which I still have… I picked it out because of the color scheme and because it looked like the figures were dancing more than the other paintings in that size and price range. The guy told me I chose well because it has a lot of “movement” in it. I felt smart.). I said to myself that someday I would have all these Nativities, including this first Southwest one.
Fast forward 10 years. My grandmother passed away when I was pregnant with Aiden. I was devestated. I miss her so much. So much. She was dying, and we all knew it, but she had wanted to hang on to see her first great-grandchild. It didn’t happen, but I know she was up there, waiting with him before he was born. And I know she was there when I had him.
Ches and I went down to Hemet for the funeral. I was miserable pregnant, but I was worse as I was grieving. At my grandmother’s condo, things had already been moved a bit, and my mom and her siblings were deciding who gets what. Lura was in college, so she needed certain furniture. Same with Courtney. Vince was about to get married, so give him that furniture. Cody needs a washer and dryer in his new place, so give him that. Valerie is keeping these clothes, but the rest go to St. Vincent’s. Those three siblings were awesome with each other when their father died, and the pulled it off again when their mother died. There was NO fighting about who gets what, if something was fair, or whatever. It was all, “This means so much more to you than I, you should have it.”
When Ches and I showed up, we were pretty much told, “Pick what you want” and pointed to the things that had been “claimed”. I was shown the jewelry box, but all that was left was costume jewelry and watches. All the furniture was “claimed”. I didn’t know what I wanted. I wanted my grandmother!! I hated going through her condo like it was some kind of garage sale! Eventually, Ches and I picked out the TV, a large oil painting of the Louvre (which we never did end up with. Oh, well.) and I found the Nativity set in the closet. I snatched up the set right away. Ches and I had celebrated 4 Christmases together by then, but we still didn’t have a Nativity.
We are about to celebrate our 10th Christmas together and we haven’t been able to add anymore Nativities to my collection. I still think of my Grandmother and I lovingly pull out the Nativity each year and set it up in a prominent place in our living room. This one will always be the center of attention because it was Grandma’s. I will add more in the future, I know that. I’m happy with what I have for now, though.
However, if you are like me, then you have drool marks all over the holiday catalogue from Deseret Book. It has the most beautiful Nativities! SUCH a variety!!! I. Love. Them. So, if you don’t know what to get me for my birthday or for Christmas this year… well, go here for pictures without my drool all over them.