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  • Writer's pictureNeil Allen


Nativity collectors all face the same decisions about which sets to add, and which sets not to add to their collections. Most of us purchase things we love, and some made the conscious decision to ask themselves why they love what they love.

Overall, most major collectors I know want a diverse collection. Some are collecting sets from as many countries as they can, and perhaps they do that to show how the message of God’s love has reached the world. Others may have many other reasons for collecting sets from many countries.

My personal collection has 72 countries represented. I’m happy with that number, but I’m more pleased in that my sets are as widely varied as I can afford or find.

Having said that, my goals from the start (over 30 years ago) were clear:

1. Show diversity to draw people into the story of the birth of Jesus.

2. Show diversity to help folks see a re-presentation of God through the eyes of the world.

3. Show diversity to draw attention to cultural bias in the hope to end racism.

For the record, in answer to the unasked question, “Was that really your goal to end racism?” - a simple yes is all I can offer.

Now that the issues of racism has become front and center in our country, it causes me to look, yet again, at the sets I display and even the placement of those sets for public view. As I’ve displayed over the past 30 years, my sets are presented on scaffolding and in a tight grouping. From the start I’ve always tried to put sets showing darker skin tones in the very center. I don’t post this statement to brag, but in evidence of my intention.

I’ve been in many “Christmas” Shops that rarely, if ever, show the Holy Family with darker colors in their face and hands. In one major Christmas shop in my home state, it became clear to me as I toured the isles of the known, or unknown, bias toward sets that appeared to be more Caucasian/Eurocentric in orientation.

If anything, as the streets fill with protesters, it’s timely to revisit our collections and take a fair assessment of what we represent and even the why of our collections.

I have much more to say on the subject of ending racism, but it matters little what we say, but what we do that matters most.

Neil Allen

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