EVANSVILLE, Ind. (Mennonite Mission Network) — Tables are set up at the annual Patchwork Central nativity set sale where children display their hand-made figures. Christ children and angels with halos and wings congregate on low tables. Even God appears in the form of brightly-glazed clay.
According to third-grade Coreyonna, who participated in the sale this year, “We make the nativities because they made good Christmas decorations [and] because they show how Christmas was started.”
Mennonite Voluntary Service participant Leah Bonham Eads works at Patchwork Central, a non-profit after-school program. She said the purpose of the sale is two-fold. In the act of creation, children form their own representations of who would have been at the birth of Jesus. Through the sale, children learn about marketing and selling a product. They even get to take a portion of the proceeds home with them.
In the words of Elizabeth, a sixth-grader, the nativity sets “are not fancy because they are made by hand.”
“It is true; the kids lack fine motor skills, patience and control,” Eads said. At first glance, the pieces look contorted and disfigured. Eads said many children have developed a roughness from a life of instability that translates into pieces of art being “accidentally squashed,” or otherwise treated with disregard for fragility.
“Given a second, closer look, the children are beautiful characters with special touches made by their creator — just like our nativity pieces,” Eads said.