Attrell's live nativity continues tradition
A nativity scene put on each year by Attrell's Funeral Chapel has become a Newberg Christmas tradition.
The staff members of the chapel erect a stable, decorate it with fir boughs and place a star on top. Thick piles of hay are spread out in the stable to keep the donkey and two sheep warm during this cold time of the season. Visitors can enjoy the display and pet the animals anytime from 9 a.m. until 7 p.m. through Dec. 26 at on 207 Villa Road.
The animals are donated each year by Don and Milynn Schaefer, who have lived in Newberg for 45 years.
"We have been taking the sheep down for four or five years and the donkey started last year," Milynn Schaefer said. "The ride down in the trailer gets the sheep a little upset, so it takes them a few days to get adjusted to a change of atmosphere. They will calm down and realize that people have treats for them!"
The donkey is of the Miniature Sicilian variety and can live for as long as 40 years if it receives proper care. Jamoka is believed to be around 9 years. His owners describe him as a good fit for the nativity scene because donkeys are also known to be a perfect guard for sheep and protect them against potential predators.
The two sheep are Miniature Baby Doll Down Souths named Sadie and Buttercup around 5 years old.
"They are a breed that was almost extinct and someone at Washington State (University) found a few clusters of sheep and they have been brought back," Milynn Schaefer said. "I've had this breed for 20 to 25 years and I was one of the first ones that had them around here. They don't live a huge long life."
A local 4-H group, "Bacon Bit n' Friends," tends to the animals daily, feeding them and keeping the nativity clean while volunteering their time. For at least 10 years the Stahlnecker family has had the pleasure of tending to the animals. The mantle was passed down from brother to one sister and then to Kasie Stahlnecker, 15. Once she graduates from high school the mantle will be passed along to another family in the 4-H club.
The stable has been a part of Newberg's Christmas since 1984 and each year hundreds of children and adults stop by to pet the animals. The Attrell family retired a few years ago and sold the business to Kevin Precht.
"The community was really wanting to make sure that the nativity stayed with the business so we listened and continued with that," he said. "We erected a new manger the first year and are still continuing with having the live animals and the holy family," said Dennis Marteeny, funeral director at Attrell's. "It's nice to see the smiles."
Inside the chapel, Attrell's has a tree of remembrance, which is brightly lit and decorated with ornaments to remember the loss of a loved one. The Mother's Heart group meets at the chapel to visit with each other, talk about their child and catch up. Each mother brings an ornament to place on the tree and sometimes they have images of the child, a symbol of a hobby or a special made ornament.
"Other family members are also welcome to bring in ornaments of loved ones. It's not just for children but for everyone, but that's the start of it," Martenny said. "So every year the tree changes, it morphs, you see some come back, you see some wait and then come back. There is a good spirit about it."
Visitors are welcome to bring an ornament or if you do not have one Attrell's has some set on a table for anyone to use and place on the tree.
"That is something that the Attrells started. We've been lucky enough to continue with their traditions, it is an honor to do so," Marteeny added.