You know Christmas is right around the corner when the Cole Lake Free Methodist Church is full of nativity scenes. (In fact, there are only four weekends left before Christmas.)
As you enter the church and proceed past the multitude of angels that show you the way to the nativities, anticipation grows until you walk through the door to where a plethora of Marys, Josephs, Wise Men, shepherds, angels, animals, and of course the Baby Jesus awaits you.
This is the passion of Jean Freeman and Kris Caird, who nine years ago began cajoling friends, relatives and acquaintances to lend their nativity scenes, augmented by their own collections, for a unique exhibit. They were later joined by Cindy McMahon and what began as “about 101” nativities, has grown exponentially.
“There are 300, we counted,” said Freeman, with a sly grin on her face that would rival old St. Nick himself. “And that doesn’t include the ones on trees and Christmas cards.
“In the past few years, we’ve usually had about 250.”
As with every year, many nations around the globe are represented, with Mexican and Venezuelan nativities being notable additions this year.
“We also have quite a few from Israel, but we had those last year,” said Freeman.
“But we have one from Bethlehem that one of my clients loaned me,” said Caird. “And there are always some we find in the second-hand stores.”
The display ran Friday night, Saturday afternoon and Sunday afternoon this year.
“We tried Saturday night one year but it wasn’t well attended so we scraped that,” said Caird.
And of course, there are activities for the kids and the world famous goodies (squares, tarts, spiced cider, etc) that are provided by the church members.
“The kids are making stockings and when they’re done, we put goodies and and things in them,” said Caird.
Next year will be the 10th 101 Nativities and the ladies are already thinking about it.
“Our minds are already going,” said Caird.
“Yes,” said Freeman. “Each year, we do different colours for the cloth covering the tables.
“We did green and gold this year but we’ve never done black.”
“Sometimes, I think we over-think this,” laughed Caird.