1. Mary is holding baby Jesus. We’ve taken the statement that “Mary placed him in a manger because there was no room for them in the inn” and added all sorts of conjecture onto it. I’m sure she did, as it is recorded, place him in a manger to sleep — but I’m also sure that she held him. A lot.
2. The cow. Actually, I like the cow and the goat and the two sheep. They look friendly. They don’t look like they know this is their Creator who has just been born so much as they look like healthy, domesticated animals.
3. Simplicity. I know that it has a folk-art feel to it and that’s more the influence on the clothing, but I do like that even the angel is in patched and simple clothing. Jesus was born into a honorable family, but not a wealthy one from all we know. Joseph was a carpenter — I suspect he worked hard, dealt fairly with people and was well suited to care for his family. I also suspect that they lived very simply. This set reminds me of that.