Carol Dohner has spent the last several decades collecting nativity scenes of all types and from places all over the globe. This month, she shares her favorites with the Milton-Union Public Library in a special nativity display.
It started when her children, Susan and Steve, were in the Junior Church class at the Potsdam Evangelical United Brethren church almost 50 years ago. Louise Fisher and her sister Madonna had the class make plaster figures of the Holy Family and the visitors who went to Bethlehem to worship. Carol kept the figures, arranging them each Christmas in an 18 inch stable. Now, her young granddaughter Stephanie spends hours moving and arranging the figures herself. That was Carol’s first nativity set, but it was not to be her last.
“Over the last 40 years, the collection has grown without intention,” Carol said. “I have found pieces at garage sales and second-hand shops, as well as new ones, always on after-Christmas sale prices, and several bought on a trip to Italy.”
Carol’s collection ranges from 10-piece sprawling sets to ornaments and tiny miniatures. There is a glass-blown scene from Italy, and a ceramic set made and painted for her by her sister-in-law. One of the sets Carol purchased at a highly reduced price because baby Jesus was missing. She bought it anyway, and Jim Vallieu carved a baby Jesus for her. Her latest acquisition is a figurine that is like a little box – and when opened, it shows the gold, frankincense and myrrh.
“It may not be fine art, but it blesses my soul,” Carol said of her sets. “I’m so impressed with the creativity.”
She says that the money spent over the years purchasing the sets and scenes is significantly less than the joy she gets by having them.
“The cost is far outweighed by the pleasure I get looking at them, knowing they represent the truth of Christmas,” Carol said.
More than 40 of Carol’s nativity sets and scenes are on display at the library until Thanksgiving. Milton-Union Public Library is located at 560 S. Main St., West Milton and is open Monday through Thursday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Friday and Saturday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
For more information, call 937-698-5515 or visit www.mupubliclibrary.org.