I don’t do much business with Deseret Book, but I enjoy getting their catalogs so I can see all the crazy crap they’re selling and make fun of it. But I especially enjoy getting their Fall/Winter catalog so I can see all the nativities that they sell because they do sell some cool nativities. I don’t buy any of these nativities because they are too nice to live in my house. But I enjoy looking at the nativities nonetheless.
One that caught my eye was the “Christmas in the old and new world” set, which has Christmas in Bethlehem on one side and Christmas in the Book of Mormon place, wherever that was, on the other. Aside from the fact that the top looks a little like a ceiling fan to me, I find it aesthetically acceptable. What I can’t quite work out is how I feel about the concept of a Book of Mormon nativity. My Inner Peculiar-People Person thinks it’s awesome. Mormony Christmas! My Inner Traditionalist-slash-Curmudgeon can’t decide if it’s lame or if she hates the living crap out of it. Must we Mormonify everything? Can’t we just let Christmas be? I know my Inner Gen X-er couldn’t less about it one way or the other, but she is being drowned out by the warring factions within.
Just kidding. I just got started with the hyperbole and couldn’t stop. You know how it is.
My husband and I have been reading the Book of Mormon with our children…very…slowly…and we just happened to be getting to 3 Nephi when December started. (Such a relief, as we’ve been working on this project for about two years.) We said, “Oh, goody, just in time for Christmas.” But actually,there isn’t much to the Book of Mormon Christmas story. Samuel the Lamanite prophesies about the sign of Jesus’s birth, and Samuel the Lamanite is cool, for sure, but Christmas Day in Zarahemla is given sort of a cursory treatment. According to 1 Nephi 1, the non-believers were just about to kill the believers when all of a sudden the star shows up, and people are astonished and fall to the earth. (Has anyone else noticed how often people in the Book of Mormon are so astonished that they fall to the earth? Was that like a Western Hemisphere “thing”?) On the creche it’s just some folks and a donkey, and they don’t even appear to be looking up at the sky, so I’m not sure what that’s about.
Anyway, not like it matters–let’s get that clear from the outset–but I know that for some Mormons it’s part of their Christmas tradition to read the story of Jesus’s birth as told in the Book of Mormon in addition to the account in the Bible. They’re probably the folks for whom this creche was made. (Them, and people who just like to collect creches.) In our family, we prefer to stick with the Luke version because the 3 Nephi version just doesn’t seem to add much. In and of itself it’s a fine story, of course–the Book of Mormon as a whole is pretty awesome, in my opinion–but it lacks the drama of Jesus actually showing up in person, so it sort of pales in comparison to the one with Mary and Joseph and the taxes. Still, I think that nativity is kind of sweet (ceiling fan notwithstanding).
Do you incorporate any particularly-Mormon components into your Christmas observance and traditions?