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Shining the light on a timeless story

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By Kirsten Laskey

A timeless story can be told a thousand different ways. It can be told through materials such as crystal or pottery or something as simple as pinto beans.

The birth of Jesus is one of those stories that can be told through a multitude of perspectives. During the 16th annual “Créches from Around the World,” from 1-7:30 p.m. Friday and from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday at the Los Alamos Ward of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, visitors can see about 300 variations of this event.

While this is the 16th year for the exhibit, new nativities appear each time. “Every year there is people that find out about it and call up about it,” Alice Mann, an exhibit organizer, said.

She added it’s worth coming back each year to see something new. “I think you forget what you’ve seen. And then you notice something that you didn’t notice before.”

“It’s an ever-changing show,” Jerrilynn Christensen, another organizer for the exhibit, said. “Rarely do you have two items exhibited at the same time. It’s not a static show.”

Plus, Christensen added, “It starts the Christmas season.”

The other purpose behind the crèche exhibit is to redirect people’s focus to the true meaning of the Christmas holiday. “I think one of the things (the show strives to do) is keeping Christ in Christmas,” Mann said.

Christensen added, “It’s a wonderful show. It focuses on Jesus Christ, the birth of Christ, which is why we have the season. It makes people feel good.”

A crèche, according to the crèche show’s Website, is a model of a scene of Christ’s birth.

There is a manager, typically depicting the infant Jesus, his mother Mary and her husband, Joseph.

Some nativities also portray shepherds, the Magi and angels.  The word crèche, the Website reports, comes from the French word for manager. It originated from the Italian word Greccio, which was the town where the first manager scene was made. St. Francis of Assisi assembled it is 1223.

St. Francis’ manager was humbler than nativities made before it; they were often covered in gold and jewels.

St. Francis wanted people to remember that Christ was born in a very simple setting.

The crèches that will be displayed at the show come from all over the world including Russia, Austria, South America, African countries and many other locations.

They can be made from wood, crystal, pottery, wood, fabric and stone. Some more unique nativities have been made from pinto beans and elk antlers.

Everyone is encouraged to either participate or view the exhibit.

To contribute a crèche, bring one or more to the church, located at 1967 18th St., by 7 p.m. Thurday or between 7 a.m. and noon Friday. Créches can be picked up after 4 p.m. Saturday.

Many people come to admire the pieces. Christsensen said close to 500 people are expected to participate in the exhibit.

It’s not just for adults, children are invited to come and will even be able to touch some nativities at a touch table.

Christensen said many people have commented the show starts off their holiday season. “It’s not Christmas until they see the crèche show,” she said. “You’re welcome to come and welcome to share it.”

“We invited everyone to come and enjoy,” she added. “This is our gift. This is designed to be a gift from the women of the church to the Los Alamos community.”