The Allen children have been watching with anticipation the weather report for this Friday and Saturday night. This is the Allen family’s 14th year of performing in the Live Nativity, an event in conjunction with the Creche at the Church of Jesus Chris of Latter-Day Saints, and the weather has its own part to play. The Allen’s are hopeful the weather won’t disrupt their family tradition of participating.
Jen Allen, who plays Mary, talks about how it feels during what can be really cold performances, “Several times I will be sitting and holding the baby and my hands are like ice and shaking. [My husband] will put his arms around my shoulders so my body stops visibly shaking. I am cold but it is such an honor to be playing the part of Mary.”
The Creche and Live Nativity have become a tradition for many families in the Colorado Springs area. People come from as far as Peyton to participate. Friday and Saturday over 800 hundred Nativity sets will be on display indoors as well as Live Christmas music performed. For those willing to risk the cold and gently falling snow, a live 20-minute Nativity will be performed. Children and Youth are prominently featured through the weekend of activities and music.
The cast of the audio narrated Live Nativity includes live animals, Caesar and soldiers announcing the decree, shepherds surrounding a small fire, angels of cherubic children and teen girls announcing the birth, and Wisemen following the star. The presentation also includes a modern family which perform at stage right of the full-size manger. At the end of the story the family walks off the modern stage into the manger scene with all the other traditional characters symbolizing that the worship of the baby so long ago continues today.
The children in the Gonzales family have participated in different capacities of the Live Nativity for eleven years. “Participating in the Live Nativity helps our family start the Christmas season with the right focus...on Christ,” says mother Susan Gonzales, “It helps the children think of the role of the humble shepherds and the rejoicing Angel's in the Savior's birth story and how they can display these attributes. They pray for good weather and for attendants to feel the spirit. They might have cold hands and feet, but they always have warm hearts”.
Carlos Salazar and his son Trevor play Caesar and one of his soldiers. Trevor is 18 and has been in the role of a soldier for five years. His mother Elise says of the event, “We learned of the Live Nativity and I was looking for a way to make some new family Christmas traditions. We looked at it as an opportunity to serve and help. We decided being a part of a Live Nativity would be a great experience for our children.”
Observing Holiday traditions is a proven element that brings unity to a family and has a protective role in increasing social connectedness for teens. In an era when teens in Colorado Springs are experiencing heightened anxiety and depression, a look at teens participating in the Holiday tradition of the Creche and Live Nativity may bring insights about how traditions anchor youth.
Heather Usevitch has a family of 8 children, each of whom plays an instrument. Some are off at school but she will be performing Friday night with a string sextet made up of her children ages 10 to 18. Usevitch has seen the value of participating in meaningful activities. “As they see and hear the joy and gratitude that is expressed for the music they share, they experience a beautiful feeling of Heaven on Earth through their own feelings of happiness and satisfaction. They learn that they can make a difference in this world and their self-worth soars.” The Usevitch family will be performing Christmas classics as “The Coventry Carol” Friday night at 5pm.
Not only teens will be performing during the weekend, but little ones as well. Marc Feickert plays a shepherd with a flock of younger shepherd boys and a few live sheep. He says of his younger boys, “Being still is a real issue, especially in the cold. But in every case of the little shepherd boys, once they set the final scene to watch the Christ child, they remain enraptured by the ‘baby Jesus’ and truly spend time thinking about Him, feeling as if they were there.” Feickert says what he appreciates most about having children participate in the Live Nativity, “Innocence and love. All of the cast members do wonderfully, but the smallest children are what make it most special for me, because there is a level at which for them it is more real than for others.”
Producer Ann Heer says if the weather gets below 18 degrees, they will cancel the Live Nativity. However, the show will surely go on as only snow is in the forecast and the temperature a balmy 22 degrees.
Live Nativity (6pm & 7pm) & The Creche (2-8pm)
Friday December 6thth to Saturday December 7th
8710 Lexington Dr. Colorado Springs, CO 80920