Wednesday, December 11, 2013

A Motley Assortment

Many years ago I went to a Hallmark store on December 26 to buy Christmas wrapping paper for half price. I had an armful of paper as I stood in line at the cash register when I spotted these Nativity figures of Mary, Joseph and the Babe on sale half price. I scooped them up too.

For years they were unaccompanied by other traditional Nativity figures while I waited to find similar pieces. Then one year, on one of those Christmases when R.H. and I not only felt poor but were poor (there is a difference, you know), we began to search for shepherds and Wise Men at Goodwill stores. Soon we had a complete set, lacking a lowing cattle or two. Even the buildings were found at Goodwill.

The figures are a rather motley assortment. There is even an elephant and her baby. R.H. pointed out that there were no elephants at the birth of Jesus, but I could not resist them. I believe God smiles when he sees the elephants.

I know that many of you love Jan Karon's Mitford series as much as I do. I'm quoting from some of her Shepherds Abiding here to remind me of Father Tim's surprise Christmas gift to his wife Cynthia when he spent many hours working to restore a box full of old worn Nativity figures.

"Father Tim peered at a motley assortment of sheep spilling from a box, an angel with a mere stub for a wing, an orange camel, and, lying in a manger of bubble wrap, a lorn Babe."

"Father Tim took the second shepherd from the shelf and examined it…'I think I'll start with the robe--any ideas?' Fred scratched his head. 'Seems like shepherds would have stayed pretty ragged-lookin.' I reckon they slept under bushes or rocks or like that.'"

"He'd taken the color of her outer robe from a painting by Adolphe-William Bouguereau."

"Andrew thumbed the pages. 'Giovanni Batista Salvi's Madonna and Child with Angels. Again a gown of scarlet, with an overmantel of blue. Exquisite."

"Mule's eyes were wide. 'An' look at th' sheep an' that donkey. I always liked a donkey.'"

"Paint, paint, and more paint--he had labored over that camel to beat the band, and so had Fred, and still it was a camel he wouldn't personally want to ride across the desert."

"In what Biblical scholars generally conceded was a two-year journey to the Child, one fellow had lost a nose, another was missing part of his crown, and all were painted something akin to a mottled, industrial teal."

"He took her by the hand and led her to the door of the living room. Though he'd personally set out each of the figures and arranged them near the manger at the base of their [Christmas] tree, he saw it all with new and wondering eyes…He had done it all in order to see her face, and instantly she made it all worthwhile. 'Timothy,' she whispered. 'Oh!' He put his arm around her waist and drew her to him. 'Merry Christmas,' he said, shy and solemn."

Have you read Jan Karon's Mitford Series? Even if you haven't, her Shepherds Abiding stands alone quite nicely as a delightful Christmas book full of the quirky characters that make up Mitford, North Carolina.

Our Nativity scene stands below the twig tree R.H. and I showed you on our one-year blog anniversary [here]. We simply removed all the pumpkins and added some tiny gold balls and square gold wreaths for a more Christmasy look.

And we spread down a silky piece of fabric that I bought for R.H.'s costume when he went as Pharaoh to a Bible character contest at church 30 years ago. He wore it as a sarong around his hips, bare chested except for a pharaoh-like gold necklace.  He swaggered in as smugly as Yul Brynner in The Ten Commandments. In one hand R.H. held a basket with our baby, Defee, in it--baby Moses himself. R.H. says he won first prize. I think it was probably second or third but let's not quibble.

We are having a wonderful time at the Tis the Season Blog Tour! Catch up with all of them if you haven't yet visited, please. R.H. and I are busy getting ready for Saturday when Across the Way will be on. We only have one more set of pictures to take to show you how we "Set the Stage." And I have the last tree to decorate, the kitchen to clean, the fourth table to set, pine branches to cut and spray with snow….

I am going to be so ready for this soon--

Meanwhile, here is a quick peek at one of my four Christmas tables:

See you soon! Once again, here are the links to my fellow tour-mates!

Monday December 9, 2013

Tuesday December 10, 2013

Poppy of Poppy View

Wednesday December 11, 2013

Sheri, Jess, and Nel of Red Rose Alley

Thursday December 12, 2013

Melanie of Comfy House

Friday December 13, 2013

Saturday December 14, 2013

Dewena (me!) of Across the Way


  1. FOUR Christmas tables! I have struggled to come up with a plan for ONE! Ha!

    Your nativity is lovely. I love a nativity with a special story behind it.

    I am almost ready for our open house. I have to be ready by 5 o'clock on Friday when the other homeowners featured on our town's Christmas tour will be touring all of the homes for a "sneak peek". It's crunch time, but I am having fun!

  2. I love the Mitford books and sometimes feel like I live in a real life Mitford here in Fairhope! Your nativity pieces are precious and I love how you have them displayed. Great job!

  3. Oh Dewena,
    I love the Mitford series!! I even carry a book bag with their logo on it:) smilies! Oh your Nativity display is one perfectly suited for the precious birth of Jesus and I feel certain, just as you, that He would love to have an elephant praising him. I am partial to elephants anyway because of their devotion to their families.
    Four tables!! I am waiting in anticipation of these glorious expressions of the Holiday season and I just know the inspiration we will all receive from getting to see them!
    Happy Wednesday!

  4. Thanks for the peeks into our future tour of your home. I'm sure yours will be the best of the lot! I've looked at every house on the schedule so many treasures!

  5. What a beautiful presentation of your Nativity scene, my friend! My goodness, amidst all your scrambling and scurrying and preparing for your tour date, you even had time to track down elephants!;-D I'm sure they are very much appreciated. Now, because I recognize your dressing room from that darling little tree, I am guessing that the adjoining bedroom is yours, here in the photo! Lovely colours and so elegantly styled, it is, just as your sneak peek at ONE of your FOUR tables! Don't forget to sit at one and take breaks, and hydrate!


  6. Beautiful, Dewena! I love your motley crew, and I love that there are elephants. All through the post, I wondered about that gorgeous piece of fabric. I was glad you told us what it was. It sounds like a wonderful costume, and it certainly makes a wonderful base for your nativity. Yes, I've read the Mitford Series, and love them. Great idea to use the words from Shepherds Abiding. Your bedroom and table look so pretty. Looking forward to the tour. laurie

  7. Dewena,
    The Nativity Scene is just beautiful, and I love your tree with the red balls. Many years ago I bought a Nativity set, and it was kind of expensive but the people had real clothes and they were covered with jewels, so I couldn't resist. I may post it before Christmas if I can. I am looking forward to seeing your post for the blog tour. Isn't Hallmark the best?


  8. Dewena, I loved the story and your assortment. I like that your nativity is with your branches. xoxo,Susie

  9. Dewena, I love the Mitford series and I am going to have to read this Christmas book you referred to. I adore your Nativity Scene and all the animals, especially the elephant. Four tables - Oh, I can't wait to see those! I just love the idea of "setting the stage." I never thought about it in those words before but I do now. I am so excited to see your home on Friday!! Merry Christmas.
    Patty at Home and Lifestyle Design

  10. And this is the real reason we celebrate Christmas!! Love your Nativity Scene and how you have it presented. Such a neat branch and decorated with the red Christmas balls! YES for Hallmark!
    Very nice!!

  11. where do i begin?
    oh to be able to grow up in your house. just as it is now! and it doesn't matter that your children are grown and some with children of their own . . . to see valley view through your eyes . . . and how beautiful it is! and the best part . . . it's an uncontrived beauty. it's the beauty that comes together from memories and treasures of times shared. it's the best of beauty.
    i think you are cynthia. yes. i'm sure of it.
    when this post ended . . . "i want more! i want to see more!!!"
    that's how i felt. i shall just have to wait for the 14th no doubt. sigh.
    and . . . PS . . .
    I THINK HE WON FIRST PLACE!!! LOLOL! tell him i have no doubt. he is a superb moses.
    and YES to the elephant and her little baby. that is why you are cynthia. it is just what she would do.
    only YOU are real life and wonderful! xoxoxo ♥♥

  12. Dewena, the Mitford series is my favorite; I'm not as keen on her book of Father Tim's early life. Too much cursing to suit me. I think it detracts from the book.
    Your decorations are lovely; bet it smells wonderful at your house. Merry Christmas!

  13. Love the Mitford series. Seeing your Nativity through Father Tim's "crafting" was a special thing, indeed! I had just decided the other day that at the first of the year I was going to read the series through again in order. I hope through your post that the series will become a favorite of even more of your readers. What a wonderful post!! Thank you!

  14. Really ? 4 Christmas tables to show? I can't get one cleaned off of Christmas decor to decorate it with my pretty dishes
    The Nativity set is special I guess I never noticed that name brand before, since I have had same one for years
    Glad i came upon your blog


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  16. Well, You KNOW I love your motley assortment of these and those. lol Perfect- absolutely perfect! I would have LOVED to see your hubby in THAT costume-bare chested and babe in hand! God bless you- xo Diana

  17. Hi Dewena, Your nativity scene is wonderful and I think it is great that you collected the pieces over time. Happy Holidays!

  18. Dewena,
    I love the nativity scene and the beautiful lighted twig tree with red balls!!!!! You just gave me an amazing idea, but for next year...
    Your table looks fabulous boy you are ready...
    Happy HOLY days!!!

  19. You.Will.Not.Believe.This. I just read Shepherds Abiding not three weeks ago for the first time! How did I ever miss it? I loved this post! ... FOUR TABLES??????

  20. Your motley Nativity scene is fantastic, and I bet it's great to think back to how you acquired each piece. It all looks wonderful on the "Pharaoh" fabric. Looking forward to your house tour!

  21. So I was reading about your nativity and Father Tim crossed my mind and then you wrote about him and Mitford. Now that was a pleasant coincidence as I love that series...I know I've read the books at least twice!

    Everything looks wonderful there.
    Like Yul Brynner....funny lady ! :)

  22. I love this post Dewena! Your nativity scene is beautiful!

    A local drugstore had a display for Hallmark, 30 years ago. It was there, J spied his first Hallmark ornament, a pheasant. He brought it home and that began an adventure. We have a Hallmark Holy Family, also. We went through the ornaments a couple of years ago and the girls took some of them home. The pheasant is still here and will make an appearance on J's tree, in the next day or so.

    I have my farmhouse Christmas post up. I can't believe we are still working away this year. I am thinking it is our last hurrah. Simpler next year.:-)

  23. Love your nativity scene, Dewena. I especially love that you collected the special pieces over time. Looking forward to your tour tomorrow!

  24. What a sweet post! I love the nativity scene collected with love! I especially love the mother and baby elephant!


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