My sister came into town to visit us. We took her to the Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky. Each year before (and for a short time after) Christmas, they have an elaborate live Nativity scene set up on the grounds of the museum.
You enter the city of Bethlehem after exiting the museum doors. Last year Roman guards greeted you and asked you to pay taxes before beginning your journey to find baby Jesus. This year, we were greeted by a person taking the Roman census. (It was a nice little way for the museum to see how far people are traveling to come see their Nativity scene.) After giving our journey information, we were allowed to enter the marketplace of Bethlehem. We were greeted warmly by shopkeepers and Roman soldiers all dressed in costume. They had a few souvenirs available to purchase as well as hot chocolate for sale. A roaring fire stood off to the side where you could chat with a couple of Roman soldiers.
A short distance away from the marketplace, you’ll find a building with Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus. On a balcony above them, is an archeologist explaining the details of Jesus’ birth and below are a quiet, young Mary and Joseph with a baby doll in their arms. (It was way too cold for an actual baby.) This year, Chris didn’t try debating with Mary whether Jesus was *real* or not. I think she misunderstood him last year and he just wanted to express that he realized it was a doll and not actually baby Jesus.
The kids had a good time and enjoyed seeing everything from the marketplace to the costumes to the characters to the beautiful Christmas lights to the animals. It was a nice way to cap off our lesson on the Nativity of Christ before heading out of town for Christmas. I find this much more enjoyable than waiting in a long line at the mall to see Santa. Les and I try very hard to place the emphasis on Christ at Christmas instead of Santa and gifts.