When Barbara Watters, a Saanich resident and Church member, acquired her first Nativity set in 2005, she didn’t dream that six years later she would own 375 of them. And she plans on getting more, if she finds any interesting ones between now and the next exhibit.
“I am totally taken with Nativity sets!” she admits. “My kids are getting tired of seeing the new ones that I buy. I always come home and say.... ‘You won't believe what I found today; do you want to see my treasure?’ Only to be answered with, ‘NO WAY! NOT ANOTHER ONE!’”
Where and how can anyone store hundreds of Nativity sets? Barbara answers, “I store the sets, carefully packed, in our barn. And I tell my daughter ‘the day after your leave home I’m going to turn your bedroom into my display area!’” “Not my room!” pleads her daughter.
What does Barb find so special about her collection of Christmas crèches? “We never had one growing up,” she says. “And the birth of the Saviour has a special meaning to me as I carried my first child at the same time as this blessed event. My son was born on Boxing Day. Since then I’ve felt a special closeness to the whole story and I find the Nativity sets fascinating. I’ve never really collected anything before that I’ve felt this good about. “They remind me that Christ is at the heart of how we celebrate Christmas, not just here, but around the world.”
“Every single crèche is different…they are truly international, coming from Mexico, Japan, Peru, Israel, Ireland, Holland, Germany, Panama, Thailand, Bolivia, the US, Africa and Russia. I even have an Eskimo one. They range in size from a Baby Jesus carved out of a gold dental filling to one the size of a walnut and so on, up to about three feet. And they are made of every kind of material from ivory, glass, porcelain, wood, clay, and tin to fabric. Every single set has a different spiritual feeling to it.
“This is my gift to our community. I love sharing them,” says Barb, who can now take those crèches permanently out of their packing cases since her daughter got married this August.