Nativity Scenes Should Be Colorful, Life-Sized, and Plastic

by Betsy Lewis December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas! The holiday hoopla is drawing to a close and decorations will soon be coming down. This means I will soon drive down Gaston Avenue to discover that my favorite annual assault on visual culture will disappear for another eleven months.

This, my friends, is the life-sized, plastic nativity on the front lawn of Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas. Nothing alleviates seasonal affective disorder like the sight of a wise man in day-glo pink.

Mary is kind of large (from an art historical perspective, one is reminded of Michelangelo’s Pieta). One camel carries Samsonite luggage and both camels, I swear to you, are smiling. The whole thing screams of the seventies but could go back a decade or two more, and weirdly, none of it looked weathered, just shiny and new and wearing too much blush.

I wondered if this was the most awesomely terrible nativity scene in all of Texas, so I Google image searched “nativity scenes Texas” to find out. There are a lot of living nativity scenes of mixed result – live sheep go a long way toward verisimilitude, no doubt about it. That same Google search offered a publicity photo of Andrew Garfield as Spiderman. I didn’t stop to investigate. 

The only nativity that can really compare to Baylor’s day-glo triumph is in Athens. That scene is at the center of a small town holy war, but I’m more interested in it because the Mary, Joseph, and angel figures are complete hotties – the angel looks like a Victoria’s Secret angel instead of a tree topper. I am amazed the donkey does not have wings.

The impossibly beautiful plastic cast of a nativity in Athens, Texas.

Be safe and don’t discuss politics with the family.

This blog is Don’t Look. Okay Look.

Betsy Lewis is a Dallas writer with the unfortunate birthday of December 29th, making her a lifelong hater of holidays.





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greg metz December 26, 2011 - 13:05

Nicely done Betsy!
in my childhood these nativities/figures were played by real people and non-smiling begrudging animals ( i was in one every year, smuggling in our dad’s brandy under our cloaks as we got older and moved up from shepards to kings post- jesus was the only new age plastic) now they are all plastic! oh wait those are real….
can we not gainfully employ some occupy nativity camps to stand in. seems like a win, win…
(saying this as an ‘occupy’ sympathizer)
check out Katrina Fritch’s
‘Stilleben’ this last years Venice Biennale’
a ‘trend’ is born… neo-rio
thanks, happy b’day, keep writing!
greg metz

jerimy December 27, 2011 - 19:19

what are you %4#@@ talking about? happy birthday? good grief.

greg metz December 27, 2011 - 23:47

pretty labor intensive reading jerimy, but in case you missed it….
last line… ‘Betsy Lewis is a Dallas writer with the unfortunate birthday of December 29th, making her a lifelong hater of holidays.’
Memo: perhaps Betsy can include less commentary and more pics next time for those who struggle so.

Hampton December 29, 2011 - 14:26



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