The 24” tall Sanctuary serves as the crèche for The Christmas Story. The design of this piece is based on historical architecture. Its gothic arches symbolize protective havens in which people throughout the ages have gathered to seek inspiration and hope. The two sides and center panel form a triptych – a work of art in three pieces, traditionally made as an altarpiece hinged together. The panels fit onto a wide base that provides stability. The pieces are constructed of wood, hand-painted and sanded for a distinctive finish. Rusted nail holes provide a decorative linear element, but more importantly, are a metaphor foretelling the crucifixion.
Positioning the figures is important to their expression. When placed on the base of the Sanctuary, Mary is turned in toward Joseph, sheltered by his right arm. Joseph’s staff and cloak form a protective shield around his new family. Joseph’s left hand should be positioned just above the head of baby Jesus, shadowing the curve of Mary’s wrist. This is a historically symbolic gesture of blessing and protection.
Asked to explain her inspiration behind these pieces, Susan says “The Christmas Story is a story from the past… but the overwhelming emotions of holding a new baby, starting a new family, and wanting to protect them forevermore are present today in every culture and every age. My hope is that the gestures of Mary and Joseph will represent these powerful feelings of love and protection.”
Other pieces that work wonderfully with the Nativity include Peace on Earth, Angel of Prayer, Angel of Healing and Celebrate. Placing an angel on the Angel Stand adds height and interest to the display.