A Rare Nativity by Sam Beeson, Images by Nina & Terral Cochran
We've all heard the song "The Twelve Days of Christmas," and we've all seen the traditional Christmas creche. Now, author Sam Beeson and photographers Nina and Terral Cochran combine these two classic Christmas icons to create A Rare Nativity.
Upon reading the first lines of the book, it's clear the narrator holds a bitter grudge as he sends his enemy crude and discarded gifts:
On the first night of Christmas I gave my enemy a briar from a tanglewood tree.
On the second night of Christmas I gave my enemy two broken eggs.
Night after night the "gifts" pile up - shards of glass, rusty nails, gnarled twigs, and more. What the narrator's enemy decides to do with each of these odious gifts is nothing less than a Christmas miracle. The photographic creation of the rare nativity at the end of the book is both a work of art and a wonder to behold.
Forgiveness is something we all need to give and receive, and A Rare Nativity opens our eyes to the act of forgiveness and the true meaning of Christmas. It's a universal message to be shared with readers of all ages. Christmas is a season for giving. Make it a forgiving season.
This book is . . . well, a little different. It took a while of letting it settle in for me to appreciate it. Oh, I got the surface message right away, but it's just not the kind of book that comes out a grabs you from the first. The photos are not all that compelling (they aren't even color). The idea that these are gifts you give to your enemy makes it sound petty and childish. But these two things--the concept and the stark photos of trash--are the meaning of the book. I'm not going to tell you that meaning. I'm just going to tell you to dig a little deeper. Don't turn away from this book simply because you think you can't relate, because we all can. This message of forgiveness and the Atonement truly is "An unexpected twist to the 12 Days of Christmas."