Every year in time for Christmas, Shirley Squires opens up her Vermont home to school children and others to show off her display of 1,400 miniature nativity sets that include Mary, Joseph, and Jesus. She has so many that they are displayed all over her house. They fill two bedrooms and a room built especially for them in her garage. Squires' house looks like a museum.

The 87-year-old woman admires her collection, and she wants others to enjoy it also. Therefore, she invites school children and church groups to tour her house during the Christmas season.

In order for there to be some order to the many people who are in and out of her modest home, she welcomes tours by appointment through January.

Origin of the collection

Squires has been displaying her collection and organizing tours for 20 years. She began collecting the sets in 1991 after the death of her husband. She continued after the death of her son in 1993. Both of her family members died around the holiday. Having the nativity sets help her get through those seasons without them. By 1997, her collection had grown so large that she did not want to keep the beauty to herself. In 1997, she decided to open her house to the public to enjoy her display. She gets an average of 300 visitors a year.

At first, the Vermont native started out with only a few. She bought some herself from nearby thrift stores, and people are always bringing them back to her when they go on vacation. She has scenes from more than 55 countries including Africa and South America.

The nativity scenes

While the nativity sets have the same characters, they are different.

Over a thousand of them are displayed on shelves, in cabinets, on tables, and underneath tables. They are made of wood, plastic, clay, and porcelain. Some were made from wood shavings and some were made from beeswax. There is a unique one of Mary, Joseph, and Jesus in the manger in a sandwich bun. Needless to say, that one gets a lot of attention because that nativity scene is so different from the others.

Some are as small as a thimble, and she has a very large one that is waist high. That one is at the top of Shirley's stairs because of its size. She has small sets from Italy that cover an entire bed and some shelves.

Future of the display

After having the display for 20 years, the older woman doesn't know if she will continue showing them after this year. Her family helps her set up the collection starting in September in order for it to be ready for the holiday. She keeps some of the display up all year in the garage and in the upstairs bedrooms that she doesn't use. She needs to take down the displays in other places around the house because she needs the space.