LOGAN — Every holiday has a story for the reason it began, and local resident Larry Beal is telling the story of Christmas through his collection of Nativity scenes.
For close to 20 years, Beal has displayed his collection of Nativity scenes, decorating the inside and outside of his home, and the sanctuary at Trinity Lutheran Church.
Beal, a member of Trinity Lutheran Church, as well as the music director, said the Nativity scene at the church is not an annual contribution.
“I did put one in the church this year. I’ve only done that a couple different times,” he said.
Beal takes pride in his home decorations with all of the history behind it.
According to Beal, there is a manger scene at his home that is lit and dates back to the late 1950s.
“I found it at an antique mall,” he said. “The manger scene is up on the balcony (of my house), and the star, we bought at Ikea.”
On Beals’ lot, Mary, Joseph and the baby are lit up.
The story of Christmas is the main message that Beal wants to spread. Every piece, no matter its style or location in his home or outside of his home, tells the story of Christ’s birth and reminds visitors of the true “reason for the season.”
“Especially with the Nativity scenes and the angels, we are trying to constantly remember the real meaning behind Christmas,” he said. “Not that the other things aren’t fun, they are fun, but it was God’s gift on Christmas to everyone.”
Diverse from the meaning of Christmas, Beal also has other decorations scattering his lot.
Beal noted that he has 25 trees and Santa Claus figures, some small and some large, over 60 Nativity scenes and 40 to 50 angels.
“I don’t put them all up because we get to a point where it just starts to look like too much,” he said. “The lights aren’t even on all the trees, I’m not really that big into lights.”
With so many decorations and so little time, Beal said that he and his wife aim to slow down in the next few years and not put up as many decorations.
“Maybe we’ll go like most people and do one or two trees,” he commented.
Christmas is a worldwide holiday, and Beal took that into account with his Nativity scene collection. He noted that he has a wide range of scenes that he has collected from different countries including — Germany, Italy, France, Japan, Ireland, and Peru. The most common scenes in America are ones from Asian countries. His collection also includes pieces from the Biltmore House, Fenton Glass, Jim Shore and Thomas Clark.
According to Beal, Japanese nativity scenes were very popular in the 1950s, but Chinese scenes are most popular now.
“Asian ones are the ones that are most popular, that’s the one you buy in the stores now, especially the Chinese ones,” he added.
His collection has grown, and his traveling has resulted in the purchase of more Christmas nativity decorations.
“I find them in the states mainly, and I’ve picked up some when I travel outside (the states), but most of them come from places here like antique dealers and options like that,” he remarked.
To see the large display of Christmas decorations and to remember the real meaning behind Christmas, residents can drive by, or stop to see Beal’s Christmas display in the yard.
The home built in the 1850s, and home to Logan’s first mayor is located at 75 Hill St. Beal commented that people can see the decorations better from Spring Hill Place behind the Presbyterian Church from the bottom of the hill looking up, as well as viewing his scene at the Trinity Lutheran Church.