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Defining a Nativity Collector, a Friend of the Creche

Reprinted letter from Donna Hahm - 2007 "Heartland Cradlesong"

Dear Jane,

You asked about what it is about creches that makes people collect them. I think the question should more be framed as hod do people who own them view them.

The answer to that is that the Nativity and its artistic representation inspire reverence and awe in the person viewing it, or setting up a Nativity (as you handle the various pieces.). Secondary to that but also important is the kinship the viewer feels with people from different cultures or backgrounds as they express the central truth of the Christian faith, the coming of the Light to those who sat in darkness, the birth of the Savior.

To the people in the FOTC, surely the kinship we have with each other is the devotional aspect of the Nativity, that setting up the figures becomes an act of prayer. That is why we asked our pastor Paul Ulring to give the keynote address this year with the theme. "Tis is my Savior all the day long." The music of the Nativity, sacred Christmas carols, is an important aspect of the personal, intimate experience of God coming to man. My personal favorite carol is "O Little Town of Bethlehem." It plays in my heart and mind all year but especially after sunset on Christmas Eve. "But in the dark streets shineth the Everlasting Light. The hopes and fears of all the years are met in Thee tonight.....How silently, how silently the Wondrous Gift is given and God imparts to human hearts the blessings of His Heaven. No ear may hear His coming..."

The central truth I have learned volunteering at nursing homes as well as being a staff nurse of people with brain injury or with different forms of dementia is that must never leaves the heart, particularly music that has touched the soul. My chief volunteer activity (ongoing) is teaching Bible classes at nursing homes. My regular people remember precisely, can sing or mouth the words to hymns they learned as children or young adults even though many of them do not even recognize that they now live in a nursing home and will ask frequently how they are going to find a hotel for the night and will the receptionist call a taxi for them after I leave. The same holds true for familiar Bible texts.

My favorite aunt who grew up in a convent (as did my mother and other sisters) prays in Latin even though she now suffers from memory loss associated with advance Parkinson's disease. Prayer defend her inner being and the radiant you and older woman I will always remember. That is her gift of peace.

The Nativity for those driven collectors the is about peace. I think that is why even though driven, greed is never a motivating force. That would negate what they have in their hearts.

Donna Hahm (Reprinted with permission)

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