Austin home filled with over 900 nativity scenes

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(ABC 6 NEWS) – Many of us have set up our decorations for the holiday season, and one couple in Austin had their work cut out for them.

Helen and Bill Holder have more than 900 nativity scenes throughout their home.

Helen began collecting in 1968 and has welcomed the public to visit for many years.

Last year due to COVID they only set up around 250 sets and didn’t have many visitors, but this year they are back to full capacity and are ready to welcome visitors.

She started with an origami nativity set she put together.

"I thought well this is a nice little collection to have I will just buy one every year," Helen said.

But from there the collection has grown to about 950 scenes.

"You might find the Wiseman bringing different gifts than the frankincense and murr and different animals showing instead of the regular sheep and ox," Helen said.

She has some from different countries, some that make music, some that move.

Others are made from things like aluminum foil and even orange peels.

"It is just fun to see how people interpret this great event and how they put themselves into the scene," Helen said.

Their home is covered from top to bottom in nativity scenes.

"As Bill says you can’t sit down you can’t cook, you can’t eat, he says he has to sleep standing up," Helen said.

Some couches are turned into tables and the stairs are a shelf this time of year.

The sets are only up from November to January and the public is welcome to visit during that time.

"People come and they tell stories about their nativities and about memories that they have around the nativity so it is fun to share both ways,"Helen said.

It takes about two and half weeks to get through all the boxes and set up the scenes.

From setting up the smallest created in a watermelon seed to the largest outside.

"Usually everybody wants to know which one is your favorite, which is sorta like asking which is your favorite child," Helen said.

But if she had to choose her favorite it is the one her family drew each character and her husband Bill cut out each piece.

Helen hopes after a slow year last year, this year people can come to enjoy all the unique pieces and learn something too.

"Jesus really came for every person it doesn’t matter what you look like or even what you are made of for that matter," Helen said.

If you would like to visit the Nativity House in Austin you need to book an appointment with Bill and Helen. You can call 507-433-2643.

They ask you to bring a $1.00 donation for the Salvation Army.

The house is located at 606 Oakland Pl. NE in Austin.