Every year, when my children were small, I would put out the nativity scene on the day after Thanksgiving, but without the baby Jesus. (He hadn’t come yet.) I told the story of the angel telling Mary she would have the baby, Jesus. Every day, I would continue the story, telling about Joseph and what that young couple may have gone through and how they might have felt; how there friends and family would have felt and so on. Then I would tell the story of Christmas night, and we would gently place Jesus in the manager. Then finally, the story of the wise men. The year my daughter started kindergarten, we had already put Jesus in the manger, but when I started to tell the story of the wise men, I noticed that baby Jesus was missing. I asked my daughter where Jesus was; had she taken Him? She didn’t remember doing anything with the tiny little figure. We swept the floor, looked in the couch and chair cushions, the toy box, everywhere we could think of looking with no success. I glanced at the clock; if we hurried, we could make it to town to buy another nativity scene; after all we couldn’t have Christmas without Jesus. We had put on our boots, our coats and hats and as I pulled her mittens out of her coat pocket, out tumbled the tiny baby Jesus figure. “Shannon, how did Jesus get in your coat pocket?”
“Oh, now I memember; I wanted to take Him for a walk and show Him the snow, and da Chrismus lights”
So, we gently put Him back in the manager, and she held Him safely against the window so He could “see outside the winda without getting cold.”
I knew that Christmas was very real to my daughter.