Nativity Stories profiles some of the most inspiring celebrations of faith by Outdoor Nativity Store customers across America and around the world.
When it was time for Christmas gift giving a few years ago, Debbie Mays told her elderly father that he did not need to worry about shopping for her. She told him she had her eye on his old John Deere wagon frame with the idea of using it as a decoration on her four-acre property in Southern Illinois. He gladly gave it to her.
“It sits on the corner of our property, and I decorate it for the different seasons,” she says, adding that she and her husband recently landscaped around the old wagon. During the fall, Debbie has colorful mums, pumpkins, and straw figures placed in and around the signature green and yellow wagon bed.
On December 1, however, she exchanges fall decorations for the yard nativity scene she purchased from Outdoor Nativity Store in 2015. “I did not think the plastic figures you can get at the store would look right,” she explains, adding, “and I did not think they would last.”
“I saw the three-piece small set for sale on the Outdoor Nativity Store Facebook page, and I realized it would be perfect. And it was. It is just the right size to sit by the frame. I just added some straw. The size is perfect, and the color is perfect.”
Debbie says she received compliments on the nativity display from friends and neighbors last holiday season. “Many of them said it was adorable and asked me where I got it,” said the Anna, Illinois, resident. Her father was also pleased at how she was using his gift.
Debbie says she was influenced in her purchase by Facebook comments about how the nativity set colors hold up well year after year. “I knew it was the right nativity set for me,” says the mother of three and the grandmother of five.
“After Christmas last year, all I had to do was rinse the pieces off with the hose, and it stored really well.”
Debbie has a nativity scene she displays inside her home each year and a few other small sets her grandchildren play with, but she feels the outdoor nativity set gives an important message to the community. ”It says what I want to say [about the meaning of Christmas] without having to walk door to door to say it,” she says.
“We kind of live in the country, and our corner gets a lot of traffic.”
For this year’s display, Debbie is considering adding the sheep and shepherd set to her Holy Family scene. “I like to keep my Thanksgiving decorations up through the month of November,” she says, “but on December 1, my grandchildren and I will be out there putting up our nativity set.”