Special to The Record
The first day of December is a pretty special day at the home of Hope Savard. That’s when she and her mom Keltie Van Binsbergen take the nativity sets out of storage and set them up around the house.
It takes a while, because between the two of them, they have more than 50 creches depicting the first Christmas, crafted by artisans from around the world.
Hope’s mom got her first nativity scene when she was a teenager, and has since collected over 40 more. Her parents gave Hope, 12, her first creche, a Fisher-Price Little People nativity, as a Christmas gift when she was five. She began playing with the set immediately, even forgetting to open any other gifts that Santa had brought her. Since then, she’s gotten another one each Christmas.
Another tradition that the family has is to wait until Christmas Eve to place the baby Jesus in the manger. The baby figurines get tucked away in a hiding place until then. The nativity scenes are a good way of counting down the days until Christmas arrives.
Keltie has sets from all over the world – a colourful cart with the holy family riding in it comes from Costa Rica, and another set is made from Icelandic felted wool. “It’s such a good reminder that Jesus’ birth is celebrated in many cultures, and that artists express this in such different ways and with different materials – and yet we share this celebration together.”
When asked about her favourite set, Hope, a Grade 7 student at Ecole au couer de l’Ile, points to the Playmobil set with its many pieces. She loves that there are lots of animals in the set, and that there are interchangeable pieces she can play with. Last year, Hope also used a collection of Littlest Pet Shop Toys to create a nativity of her own design. She wonders what the nativity would look like if there had been no humans to welcome Jesus – surely the animals would have done so.
The Playmobile set, along with other sets belonging to Hope and Keltie, will be at Creches of the World, the 6th annual display of nativity scenes, at Comox Valley Presbyterian Church Dec. 6 and 7. The event is open to the public and is free. As well as the display of sets, the event also includes live music provided by musical groups from around the valley, a dark room with lighted sets, and a children’s activity area with crafts and a photo booth where families can dress up in pageant-style costumes. But the event is not just for kids – Dec. 6 from 1-3 p.m. is reserved for seniors and those with mobility issues.
Hope attended the event last year, and saw another set on display that she would love to have. Bears, rather than humans, play all the roles in the Christmas narrative. She also enjoyed doing the scavenger hunt which sent her around the room looking to find various described sets. “It was fun, and I’ll be back,” she said.
The dates of the display are Friday Dec. 6, 1-3 p.m. for seniors and persons with mobility issues, Dec. 6, 3-6 p.m., and Saturday, Dec. 7, 10:30-3:30 for all.
Comox Valley Presbyterian Church, which is totally wheelchair accessible, is located at 725 Aspen Rd.
A website with more information and photos can be found at www.cvpc.ca