Creator of live Nativity in Marengo hopes story reminds people of true meaning of Christmas

MARENGO – For Sharon Purdom, hosting a live Nativity each year helps show her children and grandchildren the true meaning of Christmas.

Purdom used to make her children act out Nativity scenes each year, and she decided to expand the show to the community.

“I wanted kids to know it’s not just about getting presents, but that Jesus came to help us and that when we are sad or things go wrong, we always have to have faith,” Purdom said.

This is the ninth year in a row a Nativity was held Christmas Eve at Cody’s Farm & Orchard, 19502 River Road in Marengo.

Purdom teams with Marengo United Methodist Church.

Pastor Doc Newcomb said he enjoys seeing the Nativity come to life, and he enjoys seeing the animals because they are “fun, silly and even smelly.”

“I hope people are more in touch with the Christmas story by the end and it brings them joy,” Newcomb said.

Live animals grazed throughout the barn, including cows, sheep and two camels, donated by Michael Todd from All Things Wild Country Line Farms & Ponies.

It typically costs about $1,000 to rent a live camel for performances, Purdom said, so she was excited to have two donated.

Nonperishable food items were collected to donate to Marengo area OutReach Enterprises.

Actors for the Nativity varied from volunteers from the church to members of Purdom’s family.

This year was bittersweet for Purdom, who lost her brother near Thanksgiving. Each year, John played the king as one of the three wisemen.

“Other than my husband, my brother is my best friend, so this year will be really special and hard and different without him, but it’ll be OK,” Purdom said. “I know he’s there with us in spirit.”

Purdom said that when she was growing up, she had two brothers killed within 18 months, and when they buried each, she made a choice to choose God.

“[If] it wasn’t for Jesus coming, I wouldn’t have hope, and I still have hope,” Purdom said. “My mother was supposed to be the angel tonight, but she’s very sick, and we are calling hospice soon. But I have hope that I will see my brothers again, and I know Jesus is here with us. Don’t ever lose your faith.”

Edie Darling of Marengo said she’s been coming to the show for several years and keeps coming each year to see the children act.

To Kim Spengler of Marengo, the show has become a family tradition to attend each year. Spengler said it’s a unique experience in Marengo and it’s fun to see the camels.

“For me, my favorite part is seeing the story acted out with live performers,” Spengler said.

For next time, Purdom said she always is looking for new babies in the Marengo area to play Jesus.

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