PLAIN CITY -- A family here is offering a simple but what they hope will be a profound gift to the community this season.
The Barnes family at 3107 W. 2600 North is offering a free live Nativity from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday in their backyard.
"It really helps a person feel the true meaning of our Savior, Jesus Christ. That's what we hope to do as a family," said Penny Barnes, who is the mother of the Barnes family, which includes eight children and, so far, 15 grandchildren.
The live Nativity is open to anyone of any faith.
Visitors will be offered a warming fire and hot chocolate before they are led on a tour in small groups that includes a simple slideshow video, shown in a tent, that tells the story of New Testament Luke 5.
Following the video, visitors will be led to a small inn, where they will be told there is no room for them.
Then, they'll pass some shepherds, wise men, a manger scene and a small choir.
"We just hope that people have an enjoyable time while they are here and they can get kind of a little bit of a feel for how it was during that time," Barnes said.
The family tries to make it look warm and inviting inside the inn, but around Mary in a straw stable, it's a contrasting feel.
"The animals are right there by her and it's not real comfy, and she has her little baby," she said. "We do have the little burro to kind of show what she rode."
She said the entire activity takes about 20 minutes to complete. She warns those who plan to attend to dress warmly.
This is the third year for the event.
"We were sitting around the table one day and our family said, 'Let's do something special to really celebrate the true meaning of Christmas, the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ,'aa" Barnes said.
Once the idea of the live Nativity came up, she said the family got a spark of excitement.
"We said 'We'll invite our friends and neighbors.' We kind of scurried around and got people to help us," she said.
This year, she said, the event is coming together and the family feels put together in their efforts.
But she said the first two years were more difficult.
"We had to figure out what we wanted to do," she said.
Visitors don't need an appointment to come. They can park alongside the house and enter into the backyard. Neighbors, friends and members of the Barnes family show them through the activity as best they can.
Those who want to be more involved can participate as part of the Nativity itself if they like.
"People are welcome to participate with us if they like to," Barnes said. "They can call and we'll put them in."
Some of the actors are family pets and livestock. Some of them are animals owned by friends and neighbors.
"We wanted to help our neighbors instead of just getting just in the hustle and bustle of buying gifts," Barnes said.
The family also is inviting those who attend to bring canned goods or gently used clothing.
"We collect it and then we distribute it to anyone that needs it," Barnes said. The family has taken items to the women's crisis center, the food pantry at the Salvation Army and other locations.
"If we hear of a family that doesn't have very much, then we'll take it there," she said.
To get to the Barnes house, take Interstate 15 to Plain City Exit 349 and then head west.
The road 2700 North makes an "S" curve and then becomes 2600 North.
For more information or to volunteer, call the family at 801-731-5068.