More than 75 nativities will be on display at Princeton church’s 2016 holiday event
PRINCETON – When longtime Milaca residents Alvin and Jane Braman got married, they made many promises to each other.
One was to share a new Nativity scene with each other every Christmas season.
Now the Bramans are sharing their love of Nativities with people throughout central Minnesota.
Alvin and Jane Braman, who recently moved to Cambridge from a farm in Milaca, are joining with their church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Princeton, in bringing to the community The Joy of the Nativity, held at the church from 5-8:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 9, and 2-8:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 10.
Visitors will find the cultural hall and nearby classrooms decorated with hundreds of Nativity scenes and thousands of sparkling lights. In the chapel visitors can enjoy live Christmas music from area congregations or video of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Light refreshments will also be served.
The church is located about a mile west of the junction of highways 95 and 169, at the southeast corner of the intersection of Highway 95 and 100th Avenue West.
The Joy of the Nativity is Alvin Braman’s pet project. Braman has been through chemotherapy, radiation and surgery in his battle with brain cancer and also has marginal zone lymphoma. The display of Nativities has served as a medicine of sorts as Braman has entered remission with his cancer.
The Bramans lived on a farm in Milaca for 16 years. As Alvin’s battle with cancer grew tougher, so did taking care of things on the farm. The Bramans sold the farm and moved into a mobile home park in Cambridge. Then in April 2016, Alvin had brain surgery and spent six weeks at the Hope House in Rochester so he would be close to where he needed to have radiation and chemotherapy treatments.
“It was life or death for me,” Braman said. “But so far the brain tumor hasn’t grown back.”
Braman said he’s a sentimental guy. He has been married 38 years and has never broken that wedding day promise to Jane.
“Every year since we’ve been married, we’ve bought something Nativity-related for Christmas,” he said.
It might be a Christmas ornament or an actual Nativity scene, but there is always something at Christmastime.
When the Bramans moved, there were at least 30 boxes of Nativity-related items to be moved.
Many of the Bramans’ Nativities will be on display at The Joy of the Nativity. So will the 36 Nativities of Kari and Kyle Holker, who started collecting Nativities nine years ago when they were married.
“It will be a gift to the surrounding community,” Alvin Braman said. “We’re telling the real story of Christmas – the birth of Christ.”
The Joy of the Nativity, Braman said, will center around the Nativity. There will stables, shepherds and angels singing.
How The Joy of the Nativity came to be
It was 10 years ago that Alvin Braman saw a Nativity presentation at a church in Anoka.
“It always stuck with me,” Braman said.
Then, during a trip to Rochester for cancer treatment, Braman saw a tree that was 50 feet tall and made from poinsettias. It reminded him of a 50-foot “Nativity tree” he once saw in a majestic hotel in Utah.
“It was a beautiful hotel and a beautiful tree,” he said.
Braman talked to one of the organizers of that tree project in Rochester and learned that she was involved with an event called the The Wonder of the Nativity that features over 200 Nativity scenes, live Christmas music and a live Nativity.
Braman was hooked: “I thought, what a great idea.”
Braman went to his church leader and pitched the idea. Braman was told, “If you think you can handle it, let’s give it a try.”
“I want to make this an annual tradition,” he said.
“I think it will be a great night and a great way to ring in Christmas,” Braman said.