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  • Writer's pictureNeil Allen

The Nativity Virus

By Neil Allen - Webmaster

If you are anything like me you caught the nativity virus long before Covid-19 was even mentioned in a sentence. You probably thought about where that next amazing nativity was being created and how you were going to find it or make it.

This is a different era we're living through.

Here we are in July, with our "nativity season" (showing, buying, and sharing) is quickly creeping up on our to-do list. Not so fast....The 900lb. Gorilla in the room (Covid-19) has caused us no small amount of recalculation.

(Mask by Judy Klein)

For me the season ahead is dramatically scaling back emotionally and physically. Not only can I not finish plans for the 2021 Convention planned for Portland, Oregon due to most businesses closed and shuttered, I've had to revisit my plans for my personal shows for 2020.

As a traveling nativity show it is not uncommon to do 5 or more showings in churches and other organizations in and around our home in Beaverton, Oregon. This year, we had planned to do a pre 2021 Convention awareness event in our Convention setting in downtown Portland, but that appears to be in serious jeopardy as Portland is still pretty much in a phase 1 state of mind.

So, as one is prone to do with a platform within Friends of the Creche, I began making phone calls to see how some of our other Friends of the Creche were thinking about their 2020 presentations.

Helen Holder was my first call, but I was not expecting to hear what I heard. "We're moving forward with our normal plans - with modifications, of course."

(A small portion of Helen's 2019 show)

As I probed more in to Helen's reasoning it came down to this, "the joy of showing our collection far outweighs the fear of infection."

To be fair to Helen, she doesn't get a large volume of traffic. With a high year in the 400 visitors - stretched out over 5-6 weeks, it seemed manageable and reasonable to think as she does.

"I'll have to wash my hands more, and be prepared to keep distances we don't normally keep" (Paraphrased) Helen told me with her usual joyful lilting voice of confidence.

Sydne Jonglooed, our FOTC President was a bit more cautious. "We're still all systems go at this point" however, she said, "we're keeping a close watch on things as they progress."

(Sydne checking out the 2021 Pre-Convention side trip at Lincoln City, OR)

The Priests that run the conference center where Sydne works and shows determine the number of sets, areas, and even how the process works with that show, so she is taking her marching orders from them - posing the question about when a major decision about showing vs. not showing will come.

I never got to that question, as we shifted gears in thinking about the upcoming events in RI and also Portland.

Audrey Pratt's name was given to me through Judy Klein. These Texans were still resolute about continuing as per usual, but Audry less so due to the United Methodist church were she shows is still operating on a limited basis.

Judy shows out of her home - a special place her late husband Bob built for her to allow Judy to share her passion for nativities with the adoring friends and neighbors that bring folks to her "exhibit" during the year. Judy explained, Because Judy's collection is in her own property she regulates traffic on a person-to-person basis. As she feels less comfortable, she would, I assume, make more restrictions as needed. In short, Judy's plans are in a much more fluid situation, making her "no changes needed" philosophy of showing nativities much easier to turn off and on.

(A couple of Judy's 2019 visitors)

Marguerite Sullivan, who often writes for the Creche Herald, was far more resolute, in thinking 2020 would probably have to be written off. From her Washington, D.C. base, it seemed less likely she would move forward for a 2020 showing at the Monestary where she exhibits.

Charlie Hull and Norma are in the process of downsizing their collection, and might even consider being a future vendor once more if the meeting or convention were within driving distance of their home. "We don't do large showings anymore" explained Charlie, a retired Pastor.

So, I wasn't getting the firm "no showing" word I expected to receive, as the number of Covid-19 cases were spiking to new highs all across the United States, but I did make one last call to one of our newest FOTC Members and WOW a whole new world opened the door and said, "Come in - let's chat."

Shelly Crespo, an avid collector who recently discovered Friends of the Creche said, "We're going virtual!"

I'll try to boil down our 25 minute conversation, as it was more a feeding frenzy than a conversation - exchanging ideas and names in a machine-gun rate - bad metaphor - how about - In a expolsion of angles over the manger feeling of exaltation?!"

Shelly Crespo - told me about her ever growing phone tree of connections - of people holding large scale collections in places I'd never thought to look. She started to explain their YouTube idea of a virtual display that could literally reach millions in seconds!

I quickly joined her entuhsiasm with offering my daily Facebook posts through "Nativity Collections." - granting her permission to "steal" or "share" anything she thought interesting with appropriate credits as I have been privileged to share with so many.

(From a recent post on my personal page)

So, in short, 2020 may not be the "lost year" I was expecting to experience, As one person said to me, "God will find a way - Covid-19 or not!"

Like the event in the manger - the electronic angles will spread the good news of the birth of Jesus! More news ahead....stay tuned.

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