For 20 years, Rolf Peterson, 86, and his wife, Judy, 81, have put a life-sized Nativity scene on the front lawn of their Yorba Linda home for Christmas.

Rolf Peterson traced the figures onto plywood from a mail order pattern and used his jigsaw to cut them out. Judy Peterson then took over the project, painting the figures from their delicate facial features to their flowing robes.

Each year, they heralded the holidays for the neighborhood.

  • Judy Peterson made the protective masks for each of the figures in their nativity scene, except for the baby Jesus. The nativity is displayed on their front lawn at their home in Yorba Linda on Thursday, December 10, 2020. They have putting out the nativity scene for over 20 years but this year, because of the coronavirus pandemic, Rolf suggested they put protective masks on Mary, Joseph and three kings. (Photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Judy Peterson made the protective masks for each of the figures in their nativity scene, except for the baby Jesus. The nativity is displayed on their front lawn at their home in Yorba Linda on Thursday, December 10, 2020. They have putting out the nativity scene for over 20 years but this year, because of the coronavirus pandemic, Rolf suggested they put protective masks on Mary, Joseph and three kings. (Photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Rolf Peterson, 86, and his wife Judy, 81, are shown next to their front lawn nativity scene at their home in Yorba Linda on Thursday, December 10, 2020. They have putting out the nativity scene for over 20 years but this year, because of the coronavirus pandemic, Rolf suggested they put protective masks on Mary, Joseph and three kings. (Photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Judy Peterson made the protective masks for each of the figures in their nativity scene, except for the baby Jesus. The nativity is displayed on their front lawn at their home in Yorba Linda on Thursday, December 10, 2020. They have putting out the nativity scene for over 20 years but this year, because of the coronavirus pandemic, Rolf suggested they put protective masks on Mary, Joseph and three kings. (Photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Rolf Peterson, 86, and his wife Judy, 81, are shown next to their front lawn nativity scene at their home in Yorba Linda on Thursday, December 10, 2020. They have putting out the nativity scene for over 20 years but this year, because of the coronavirus pandemic, Rolf suggested they put protective masks on Mary, Joseph, three kings and other figures in the scene. (Photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register/SCNG)

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But this year is different, there is the coronavirus pandemic. And Rolf Peterson had an idea.

“Why don’t we put masks on them.”

Judy agreed and sewed masks for all the figures, except the baby Jesus and the animals.

“I don’t even know if our neighbors notice it,” Judy Peterson said, “(but) we got a kick out of doing it.”

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By Arlene Huff

Arlene Huff is the founding member of Golden State Online. Before that She was a general assignment reporter. A native Californian, she graduated from the University of California with a degree in medical anthropology and global health. She currently lives in Los Angeles.

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