Shady Cove woman displays 157 nativity scenes

SHADY COVE, Ore. — Sue Pemberton has been collecting nativity scenes for over 50 years. Every year she opens up her home to the Shady Cove community to share the stories of all 157 of them.

Sue began collecting nativity scenes when she was 21 and newly married. She knew Christmas wasn’t complete without one.

“I saw this and it was $12.50 and I thought, ‘Wow that’s a lot of money, but I’m gonna buy it because we need a nativity set,'” Sue said.

Sue never would have imagined that over 50 years later, she would have 157 sets from around the world.

“Nepal, Peru, India, Russia, a lot of american, Irish, Indian, American India, I’ve got a Navajo set and a plains Indian set. Just from various countries all over the world,” Sue said.

All 157 sets come with a unique back story, from where it came from to who handcrafted it.

“These are all olive wood from Bethlehem,” Sue said.

Some go back decades. Sue’s father bought her one from her old grade school in Montana.

“I laughingly say the nuns blinged it up because I know it didn’t come with all of these little jewels,” Sue said.

A few of the stories go far deeper.

“When my granddaughter, who is now 26 was in the first grade, she drew this for me and framed it. That was my Christmas gift and it’s so precious, so, I hang that every year,” Sue said.

But with her husband Cliff’s declining health, it’s too difficult for Sue to set everything up. While she’ll always have a handful of nativity sets on display, this will be her last year with the full collection.

“I think it’s really important that we keep Christ in Christmas and keep our focus on what the real reason for this celebration of Christmas is,” Sue said.

Sue doesn’t know what she’ll do with all the nativity scenes. She’s considering giving them away to families who may not have one. But while Sue may part with some, there are others she holds too close to her heart.

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