Live Music, Activity, and Color: Salem Nativity Festival
A question for my fellow Salemites: Have you been to the Salem Nativity Festival? I’m new here and I haven’t.
I put my nativity scene on display on Wednesday, and when I went to go set it up, I was amazed. There are no more cinder-block walls, but blue expanses of evening, star-filled sky instead. There are no basketball hoops, but New Testament tents. And the colors? Purple, red, brilliant gold. My nativity is blue on teal and sky and cream on top of purple.
It’s handmade, my nativity set, or so told my mother after she talked to the woman who gave it to me. Who gifted it as a wedding gift, five years ago. And I thought, “Oh! I didn’t know Cheryl was a potter! Cool!” But on Wednesday, when I set it up? I found tiny little words on each of the pieces that I’ve never seen before: MEXICO. Handmade, still plausible, but not by Cheryl. My pride died a little, but it’s still there for you to see.
I’m glad to contribute because during the Nativity Festival will now be the only time I take this particular nativity out. I don’t love it so much that I would never let the pieces clink against each other; I can dream of a nativity set that could trump this one, and I have no intention of collecting nativity sets. Still, it’s not for babies to play with, so I’m glad to have somewhere to use it before it goes back in a box.
Besides, when we go tonight, I intend to find the sets a baby can play with. “But, Kate,” you cry. “You’ve already seen most of it when you went to set up. You’re going back?” Oh, yes. Because there weren’t live ecclesiastical performances in the chapel, or a live nativity. And I must see if there’s another nativity next to mine, and whether they filled the stage with nativities as well. And I didn’t get to look around; my boys could only hold out for so long, and making a nativity set pretty-ful for public display takes longer than you think.
All I saw were women who fussed about placements of paintings and fake Christmas-lit trees in my corner. And all I hear was the crashing of a display that had gotten too tall for a man to set up wires around it. The man emerged with a very broken statue, saying, “The good news is that I know exactly where to buy these.” I’m sure the preparations did not go exactly smoothly.
And I’m curious. This thing has run for nine years, now in its tenth. Have there been any disasters in the past? What have you seen? What were your impressions? Will I see you there? I’m wearing mostly grey today, a long braid down my back, and excitement on my face.