Just after Thanksgiving, I gave my grandson a Fisher Price manger set. It didn't make sense to wait until Christmas for such a gift. There were other nativity sets in the house, but this is one that can be handled by little hands – loved and held and even combined with the Fisher Price zoo set.
In Aidan’s re-enactment of the first Christmas, there were gorillas and bears in addition to the standard cow and sheep. There was the baby, Jesus, of course, and his earthly father, Joseph, and his mother, Mary, a yet-to-be-named zookeeper, and an angel, conveniently named Mary. Three wise men traveled a great distance to be there, riding on one camel and two elephants. I’m pretty sure that Mary - the mother, not the angel - arrived on the zebra, because the donkey was on lookout duty on the top of the stable.
This particular donkey, though, is quite musical. From his perch on the top of the stable, you simply pat his back, and music floats down as “the little Lord Jesus lays down His sweet head.” and “the stars in the sky look down where he lay.” Perhaps at the direction of the zookeeper, “the cattle are lowing.” And no doubt, given the sweet sounds from an inquisitive two year old, “the baby awakes.”
Dear Jesus, not just at Christmas time, but all through the year, please:
“Bless all the dear children in thy tender care,
And fit us for heaven to live with thee there.”
May the blessing of the Christ child come to all: barn animal and exotic, human and angelic, child and child-like, as we bow at Jesus’ lowly manger.