I collect nativities...creches. I started about 18 years ago, and my collection has really grown during that time. I decided that whenever I visit a foreign country, I want to buy a nativity to bring home. I have one from Mexico, one from Puerto Rico, and one from China. I visited the Phillipines and planned to buy one there, but found they were very expensive there. I could kick myself for not getting one anyway. I went to Canada last year, but it seemed so much like home that I forgot it was another country, so didn't get one there either.
When I was in China, I looked everywhere for one. I did find a small embroidered tree ornament with Mary and baby Jesus on it, but that was all I could find. A woman from church used to come visit me every month. For Christmas she gave me a windmill candle with a the nativity on each tier. That is the only one I got from China. China is more progressive these days, I think it might be easier to find one today.
As I was setting my nativities up today, I tried to decide which one is my favorite. As I have collected more and more, some become less favorite and because of limited space, are often left boxed up. Years ago my mother gave me a nativity that had belonged to my grandmother. It was handmade by a friend of hers. It had Joseph, Mary, and the baby. My grandmother had some goofy sort of animals she put with it. She had a playschool lamb, and a plastic deer that she displayed with it. I opted to not use the animals, but displayed it in a prominent location. My grandmother didn't have very many nice things, but she loved this nativity. One year my kids were playing and accidentally knocked it down and it broke. I kept it, and glued it back together the best I could. The cracks can't be seen from the front, so I still display it. I guess if I were hard pressed, I would say this is my favorite because of the sentimental value. It isn't the prettiest one I have, but because it was my grandmothers, and she loved it so much, it means more to me.
I have a small collection that sits on the windowsill above my sink. It is a miniature collection. I even have one that was made in a matchbox in Puerto Rico. I have a very tiny pewter one. I'm the one who spends the most time by the kitchen sink, and guests don't usually go there, so I'm the one who enjoys this tiny collection the most.
One of my favorite things to do at Christmas is to go Creche exhibits. Our church has one in the area every year that is amazing. They have different rooms to highlight different creches. For example, one room displays creches made in South America. They have all kinds of silk bushes in the room and south american embroidered tableclothes on the tables. You feel almost like you have entered another world. One room has creches that are crystal and glass. It is like being in an ice world. One room is devoted to children and has a large manger and costumes so the children can play dress up and create their own creche. Sadly I missed the exhibit this year. It was far away, and the timing didn't fit my schedule. I will just have to wander around my own little creche exhibit this year and enjoy the ones that I have.