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Ashburn Resident Presents the Christmas Story…in Stamps

Otto Jacobson produced a video entitled “The Christmas Story in Stamps, Scripture, and Song” featuring 318 holiday stamps from across the world that collectively tell the story of Christmas.

(Ashburn, Va.) - A stamp collector since the 8th grade, Ashby Ponds resident Otto Jacobson was recently able to share the fruits of his labor with his friends and neighbors.  During the month of December, Jacobson presented a video entitled “The Christmas Story in Stamps, Scripture, and Song” featuring 318 holiday stamps from across the world that collectively tell the story of Christmas. 

As Jacobson describes it, this project began thirty-five years ago when he was a pastor at Messiah Lutheran Church in Oakland, N.J.  “For our first Christmas in our new sanctuary, I wanted a unique way to present the glad tidings of Jesus’s birth,” said Jacobson.   He decided to photograph his collected stamps, put them on projector slides, and using LPs, a phonograph, a microphone, and a boombox, he created the original presentation for his congregation in 1977. 

During the summer of 2012, Jacobson spent five weeks reworking his presentation into a digital format.  The presentation moves to the soundtrack of holiday music, and features selections mostly from the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, as well as some prophecies from the Old Testament.  Each stamp helps to tell the Christmas story, recounting the the birth of Jesus and the true meaning of the holiday season.

Jacobson noted that the largest percentage of the stamps in the presentation are from Europe, but that those from the Pacific Islands number a close second.  “The first Nativity scene was printed on a stamp in Hungary in 1943,” said Jacobson.  Since then, many countries have followed suit with Christmas stamps; Jacobson’s presentation includes a number from Poland, Ghana, New Zealand, Israel, Anguilla, Spain, Germany, Cayman Islands, Malawi, and the Soloman Islands, among many others.  “In 1970, the Nativity stamp in the U.S. outsold its secular counterpart by nearly 200 million,” said Jacobson.  In 2002, however, the one religious stamp distributed in the U.S. was, by a good margin, outsold by its 16 competing secular counterparts, according to Jacobson.

Though the presentation took significant time and effort, Jacobson was thrilled to have been able to share it with nearly 150 residents at Ashby Ponds.  “It was well worth it to hear the other residents say how much the program meant to them,” said Jacobson. 

About Ashby Ponds:  Ashby Ponds, one of 16 retirement communities managed by Erickson Living, is situated on a scenic 132-acre campus in Ashburn, Virginia (approximately 30 miles west of Washington, D.C.).  The community is home to over 700 residents and is filled with fascinating people and fantastic opportunities.  With over 100 resident-run and resident-driven clubs and groups, an indoor pool, a fitness club, transportation services, 24-hour security, and flexible dining options, life at Ashby Ponds offers a true sense of community and is an exciting alternative to the typical retirement community.  More information about Ashby Ponds can be found at: www.ericksonliving.com.

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