THERE IS a fascinating exhibition of nativity scenes at St Mary’s Church in Lydiard Tregoze, taken from the collection of the Rev Captain Clive Deverell.

Looking at the photos it occurred to me that you don’t see many of those traditional old festive dioramas in people’s homes any more.

Maybe the companies who make them need to update the idea a bit, in order to cater for more belief systems and Christmas traditions.

Obviously, for those who hold the old ways most dear, the old fashioned one with Mary, Joseph, the kings and the wise men should always be available. After all, the original Christmas story is the most beautiful of all.

The only refinement I suggest is including a load of alternative costumes such as military fatigues and space suits. That way it’ll look a wee bit less blasphemous when the Holy Family and the first worshippers are found by the kids at the back of the cupboard in July and repurposed for war games in the back garden.

For the non-devout, there should be a choice of dioramas reflecting the diversity of the modern festive experience. Instead of a stable, there might be a living room with a Christmas tree or a dining room with a table laid for Christmas dinner, and various figures representing members of the family. The figures should be sold separately, as every family is unique.

A selection of about a dozen mums should be available, reflecting the broad range of Christmas day family traditions.

In other words, there should be one mum who looks infuriatingly efficient and happy, and a load more who look like they’ve been woken by the kids at five in the morning, realised the family’s promise to chop the veg the night before had been a lie and then set about getting angry-drunk on sherry.

For added authenticity, a mother-in-law figure might be purchased to gaze disapprovingly at mum. More advanced models might be made to talk at the press of a button, saying something passive-aggressive about parsnip preparation.

A selection of dads should be available in a choice of Christmas sweaters and stages of alcoholic poisoning, from a bit green about the gills to attempting re-start their own heart by clasping forks in each hand and jamming them in the toaster.

Kids available for dioramas should include infants with authentic trifle-vomiting action, sulky ones who’ve just been given the wrong video game by a well-meaning older relative, and young adults just back from university with a new partner whose face they’re permanently attached to.

Voice mechanisms like the one in the mother-in-law figure would add more realism to various other family members, such as the annoyingly successful adult siblings who boast about the value of their houses.

There should also be a drunken, inappropriate uncle.

He should be the best figure of all. No clue should be given on the packaging as to which phrases the drunken inappropriate uncle is programmed with. This should add an element of extra interest for people purchasing him for their diorama, especially if guests were encouraged to press his button and make him say something.

Will it be an innocuous comment about the weather? Will it be an embarrassing joke about certain body parts which makes any adolescent in the vicinity wish they could instantly cease to exist? Will it be something about international terrorism that manages to be simultaneously racist, homophobic, sexist and potentially illegal?

Will phrases such as “PC Brigade” be included at some point in the proceedings?

Fun for all the family.