THE traditional nativity scene is a staple of the Christmas celebrations. At school we learn all about Mary, Joseph and the three wise men and their relevance to the yuletide story. So, after our success in recreating the 12 days of Christmas last year, we thought it would be fun to have a crack at bringing the nativity scene to life, albeit with a more modern, local twist. Here we present the nativity – Croydon style... Jesus, as we all know, was born on Christmas Day – something he has in common with Callum Cannon, who is getting ready to celebrate his second birthday. His mother Amanda Cannon, of Thicket Crescent, Sutton, said Callum will have his cards and a birthday cake on the 25th, but his party will be on a different day. She added: "I try to keep things calm so that he doesn't have an overload of presents. "I usually try to keep a few things back, though he will probably just rip off all the wrapping paper this year." Callum's older brother Kai, 10, and sister Kiera, 9, are not fazed by their little brother's yuletide birth, but Amanda joked the first thing they usually say when talking about their brother is: "he was born on Christmas Day". Mary is naturally a key, nay essential, part of the nativity scene, often to be seen in churches at this time of year. So who better to play this part than the Reverend Jeanne Males, of St Mary's Church, in Addington. The church is one of a group involved in the Croydon Churches Floating Shelter project, which provides food, shelter and companionship to homeless people over the winter months. Rev Males told the Advertiser: "We see people in all sorts of circumstances; some people who have a very happy Christmas and some people who are having a bad time." Rev Males spends her Christmas season visiting local schools, the old and the poorly. On Christmas Eve, the church is holding a crib service for children and then a 'more solemn but beautiful' service for Midnight Mass. Our Joseph played the part of Joseph in the nativity at er... St Joseph's School. Father Christmas greeted infants at the Upper Norwood school on Tuesday, including Jamie Howard-Calle, who took on the role of Joseph in his school's nativity play. Head teacher Tamsyn Lawlor said that Father Christmas came 'tingling his bells' and the children were are all very excited. On Tuesday, staff and pupils at St Joseph's had a Christmas dinner with all the trimmings and an abundance of festive crackers. The children also performed their nativity plays last week. Mrs Lawlor said: "It was wonderful, absolutely fantastic and full of the wonder of the nativity." Every nativity scene needs a shepherd – and we've got two. Malcolm Sheppard, of the Village Fish Bar, in Selsdon, is looking forward to swapping cod and chips for turkey with the trimmings. He said: "We used to get a lot busier over Christmas, but with Tesco being open 24 hours and all the variety that is around these days, it is harder for us. "It does still pick up a little bit though. With the business, I don't get a lot of time off, so I give myself the whole week off from Christmas Eve to the New Year to spend time with my family. "For me, Christmas is all about spending quality time with the family and enjoying a traditional roast turkey dinner." Croydon Advertiser news editor 'angel' Gabriel Shepard has a doubly festive name. Gabriel, pictured sharing a joke with Mo from EastEnders, said: "I love Christmas, as I suppose I have to with a name like mine." The staff and volunteers at Croydon Voluntary Action truly are angels. The CVA acts as a local umbrella organisation, serving all Croydon's communities, and running a wide range of services for small groups, social enterprises, larger charities and volunteers at all stages of development. Our photo shows Alicia, Jennie and Dre from the CVA, getting into the festive spirit - and looking positively angelic. Here's our three wise men - James, Richard and Graham Wiseman, of Purley, to be exact. "Christmas is a great time of year as all the family gets together and we have a good knees up," James told the Advertiser. "We're quite a traditional family and we do all the usual things, like have a big dinner, watch TV, and play games. "We also have family in Australia and Scotland so we call them on Christmas Day and this year they've promised to get Skype so we can have a video chat." Every nativity needs a star, and this year's star at the Fairfield Halls panto is Laila Morse, better known as Big Mo from EastEnders. Laila will be busy playing Fairy Sugarsnap in Jack and the Beanstalk over the festive period, but wants us to spare a thought for those less fortunate this Christmas. She said: "It's a happy time for all the friends and relatives to get together, but sometimes we have to remember the people who have nowhere to live being cold and hungry, and hope that they find somewhere warm and comfortable for Christmas." Laila added: "It's a joyous time for everyone to get together, to eat, drink and be merry and I hope that everybody all over the world has a lovely time at Christmas and a prosperous new year in 2013." Our Innkeeper is Sue Cojocaru, who manages Higherview B&B, in Purley She said: "The thing I love about Christmas is the lights. All the twinkly lights instantly get me into the spirit. "This will be my first Christmas in the B&B business and I have guests stopping, so I am looking forward to that. It will be something different. "I've actually converted my son's room into a guest room so he'll get a shock when he comes back from university." There aren't many donkeys in Croydon, but our many Mexican restaurants supply a slight variation on the theme. Burrito, roughly translated, is Spanish for 'little donkey' – and there will be plenty of chances to tuck into these and other treats at El Sombrero, in High Street, over Christmas. Sam Hilal, from El Sombrero, said: "We have a Christmas menu where we offer a three course meal for £15.75. We are usually busy right up to Christmas Eve." Reporting team: Andrew Jameson, Steven Freeman, Lucie Potter, Rachel Bayne, Liam Curran Photographs: Grant Melton, David Cook, Robert Streeter
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