Live Noble Ranch Nativity 2017
by Terry Allen
December 26, 2017
Just like 2000 years ago, no matter which direction you were coming from on Christmas Eve, you’d have been able to see the light shining over the Old Dick Noble Ranch in Cora, Wyoming; and you’d have been able to get to a warm barn by just following that star.
For around 30 years Dick Noble and his family put on a live nativity at their ranch for their family, friends and community and now the Nelsons are continuing the tradition. A few weeks in advance of December 24th, notices are posted around the county inviting folks to spend Christmas Eve with them…and bring a plate of cookies to share, too.
The path for trucks and people is lined with candles in bags, but you’d see the big bonfire anyway and that’s where everyone heads to after they park their horses.
Sam Nelson and his team organize and give instructions to the folks in costume playing the roles of Joseph, Mary, Baby Jesus, the Wise Men and both big and small Shepherds. Doc Sare’ has a donkey with him and educates Mr. and Mrs. Call on donkey handling and riding. He seems real serious and so they lean in to him and listen carefully to the plan. Then comes the Mary Gets on the Donkey part…and the plan changes to Just Get ‘Er Done…Somehow. The donkey thinks I’m a good place to run to get away to, but he must have bad eyesight or something because instead of going around, he kept trying to run right thru me. You’d be surprised how tough a little donkey is…but you'd understand as soon as you saw him dragging a bunch of Wise Men off into the dark with Mary hanging on…because that was the final part of the plan. "If everything goes wrong Mary…just hold on," said Doc. So there she went just like in real life…holding onto trouble with one hand and a baby in the other.
I caught up with them about the time they decided to put in for the night at an Inn, but they got turned away and wrestled the donkey down to the stable with the big star and light shining from it. Inside was beautiful. Fresh hay a foot thick all over the floor, and warm lights made it inviting.
Everyone gathered round and a prayer was said and a couple songs were sung. Then everyone was invited to come forward and meet the Baby Jesus…who really was a very fresh baby because I’d seen the photos on Facebook only about a week before.
I climbed into a pen with three horse-like animals so I could get some good photo angles. One looked like the donkey, another looked like a burro and another looked like a midget horse. The burro kept nudging me and then when I’d fall over he’d take a bite out of my backside. I saw Jim Nelson swatting him away, too, so I think he can back me up. I don’t know how many times I had to retrieve my coat from the throat of that burro.
I was making my rounds in the stable thanking folks for helping me out to make good photos or hold my camera gear when I climbed into a pen. I mentioned to one man and his wife that even though I was not a religious person I really liked coming out to do this story every year and that everyone always treated me like a friend and part of the family. "Well, Terry," the man said. "That’s kind of the whole point of this evening. We’re all brothers and sisters on this earth and the greatest advice man was ever given was to love one another."
Terry Allen: email@example.com
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