Handmade Nativity

They are stuffed with cotton, sewed out of scraps. The kings have colorful stamp-size pieces of fabric tied about their heads and flowing five-inch capes. The shepherds are made of brown felt. One carries a crook made from a twig snapped from a birch tree in our yard more than 30 years ago. There is the sheep, the most forlorn of this homemade tableau, tattered cotton balls pasted to its wobbly white felt body.

I made the camel and the donkey out of brown felt, and gave them tails of brown yarn. The two are still standing as proud as the day I used a crochet needle to tightly pack their half-inch legs. The angel is of course all white with white felt wings and golden yarn hair. She has a red sparkly pipe cleaner for a halo.

The stable has a quilted corduroy roof and fat fabric walls stuffed with cotton with dried beans at the bottom for ballast. (Spoiler Alert: do not store bean-bottom crafts in damp places. They sprout!)

Under the cozy roof is the holy trio. Mary, in light blue brushed fabric left over from doll pajamas I made so long ago. Her halo is a white felt wafer glued to her head. Joseph is subdued but for his handsome brown beard and his flying dreadlocks made of brown yarn. At the couple’s feet is a round-faced Baby, lying in a cloth manger with rays of straw-color yarn flying from the sides.

I made this Nativity when little eyes and little hands explored every inch of our house, especially at Christmas, when there were secrets to keep and wonderful stories to tell. This handmade set sat under our Christmas tree, and still does, touchable and unbreakable.

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