Once upon a time…
There was a little girl. Her name was Olivia and it was her 3rd Christmas, although she wasn’t quite three.
She was very excited about the coming holiday. Not because of presents or candy, but because she had been invited to a birthday party for Jesus. There would be cake and presents and singing and crafts, but most important she would get to see the Baby Jesus and she just couldn’t wait!
Her Mama was very busy this particular Christmas and sadly thought this birthday party was a little silly and quite inconvenient. She had decorating and baking to do. A new baby was coming too and there was lots to get ready for. And chasing after a 2yr. old and 15 month old made her quite tired. She would rather stay home. She needed to stay home.
But it was all her little girl could talk about…
She had lots of questions about that special little Baby. Questions like:
“Where is the baby Jesus?”
“Where is His Mama?”
“Does He have a white kitty?”
“When will I see Him?”
“Will I get to hold Him?”
Her Mama just couldn’t say no to that precious little thing. As she dressed her that Saturday morning, putting a little red bow in her hair to match her red overalls, she saw the light in her eye. The giddy excitement that burst over in little giggles and more questions. It was hard for that Mama not to get a little excited herself.
So the excited little girl not yet 3 and the reluctant Mama drove the long way to church. The sky couldn’t have been clearer. The sometimes green rivers were such a vibrant blue as the light from the sun made them gleam. They looked so happy. It might have helped that Mama to feel a little less tired and a little happier too.
As they pulled into the parking lot the Mama quickly realized they had arrived late. No one else was walking in with packages in hand. She noticed the air felt a little more frigid as she couldn’t quite get her coat to button over her wide girth. She positioned her scarf a little better so that it covered her protruding front.
She thought of her babe within. How cozy and warm he was. Then her thoughts turned to the young mother long ago who had carried the babe within her willing body…
Had it been cold then too?
Had she been scared?
Did she feel alone, abandoned by her loved ones?
Did she have doubts?
Did she doubt God’s plan?
Or was she at peace?
What this Mama didn’t realize was that she had thought a lot about that little Baby too and a lot about that young mother. Her own time was coming near and she was feeling heavy and tired and weepy and what was it like riding on a donkey through the desert so close to delivering? Could she have done that, she wondered? What had it been like not having anywhere to go? Knowing that the One she was about to usher into this world deserved to at least be wanted. Did her heart sink as she walked or most likely shuffled into that stable-cave? As she laid on the dirt and straw, did it poke her? Did the smell make her nauseated…?
She couldn’t help but wonder.
Her thoughts were interrupted by the little hand that held hers, it pulled excitedly, “Now, Mama?” She was so anxious to see the Baby.
“Not yet, sweety. We have to go to your class first and wrap our gifts so that they can be given to someone who otherwise wouldn’t have any presents this Christmas.”
She didn’t understand why she had to go to her class first. She wanted to see the baby Jesus first. Thankfully she was soon distracted by her friends and the fun job of decorating wrapping paper.
Her Mama moved onto the sanctuary where she would wait with the other mothers, to listen to a devotional. She noticed the manger on the stage with the blanket of clean white tucked snugly inside. Her thoughts again went to that night long ago…
What would it have been like to give birth in such a dirty place? Did she even notice through the pain? Was Joseph scared too? Did they have help or was it just the two of them? Did He come quickly or did she labor long and hard? What was it like holding him for the first time? Was she exhausted or was her strength renewed as she took Him to her breast? Was she overwhelmed with that sweet, powerful motherly love or the awe of her Savior, or both? She could only imagine the sweet tears that flowed…
Again her wonderings were interrupted as the devotional began.
Soon the children were heard as they began walking down the hall to the sanctuary. They walked in each carrying the gift they had just wrapped. A proud Mary and Joseph took their seats on the stage on either side of the wooden manger where a fake baby Jesus lay peacefully on the scratchy straw.
As soon as her little black patent-leathered feet walked through the big doors her eyes began searching. The Mama watched her closely hoping she wouldn’t make a scene as her teacher directed her over to the tree where she was to place her gift and told her to go find her Mama.
She quickly stood so that her little one could easily find her. The confused little girl walked over to her Mama and loudly whispered, “The baby Jesus is up there and we neeed to go see him!”
“It’s hard to be patient, I know,” Her Mama whispered back. “But we are just going to have to wait.”
She ants-ily waited on the seat through the story that was read and the songs that were sung. The Mama was getting a bit antsy too, not knowing how long she would be able to hold her back.
They were then dismissed to the fellowship room for the birthday cake and to sing “Happy Birthday, Jesus”.
Hearing the word cake, the almost 3 year old momentarily forgot about the little bundle up front and her long awaited mission. The Mama followed and helped her find a spot and just the right size piece of birthday cake which she quickly inhaled. She hadn’t forgotten after all.
One look from her little one and that Mama knew, there was no more putting it off. She took the small hand in hers and they walked together, slowly into the sanctuary.
As they walked through the big doors, the Mama noticed how calm and quiet her normally rambunctious little one was being. It was if what they were about to do was something very sacred. And to her girl, she guessed it was.
The room was empty as they approached the stage and the manger. Mary and Joseph had since gone to partake in eating cake. All that remained was the little plastic baby laying on top of the yellow hay.
“Is that a manger?” she asked.
“Yes, it’s a manger” answered her Mama.
“But that is for horses!” she cried.
“Yes, for horses” her Mama thought to herself.
As they got closer the little one became very still and just silently stared into the sleeping face. It was the kind of doll that closed it’s eyes when it was laid on it’s back.
She then reverently asked if she could hold the baby Jesus.
Here Mama carefully picked up the bundle and gently placed him in her tiny arms.
The small girl stared in awe at this little baby. She hugged him and kissed him and pressed her cheek against his. She then carefully placed him back in the manger. That manger for horses.
The Mama stepped back, thinking this magical moment had ended. But then she heard, “Mama, I just have to hold him again.”
She thought her Mama-heart would burst as she watched her precious one gently pick up the baby Jesus one more time. She began to have the same sense of awe as she watched the God of heaven and earth show Himself to this little girl of not quite three in such a simple yet profound way.
The young one hugged Him and rocked Him, kissed Him and loved Him. And her Mama loved Him too.
This is how it had been.
There was no doubt in that Mama’s heart. This raw love and adoration that radiated from her little girl’s face must have been how the first ones to hold and see this Child looked and felt themselves. She herself felt a sense of what the young mother and father, the shepherds and later wise men must have experienced as they beheld the Savior-Baby for the first time. The awe they had felt and undoubtedly the love that had overwhelmed them for that little Baby they had never seen before. But now would never again not be able to think of. The moment had left them changed.
And she had been changed as well. A sense of knowing came over that Mama as they walked out of the sanctuary hand in hand. An understanding that God had been showing her something through her little girl who had such a keen sense of understanding the importance of this little Baby. And the genuine, innocent love she had for Him.
Driving home she was thankful she had followed her 2 year old to the party that day. That she had been led by that small hand down the center isle to meet the baby Jesus in a way she never had before. That she got to witness the innocent, unadulterated love of a child for the Savior of the World who came as a baby so long ago. It was necessary that He come as a baby. It was necessary He enter our world just as we did. It is necessary that His birth be celebrated each year because it meant so much.
And it was necessary for that Mama to see Him through the eyes of a child, her child that Christmas.
What a truly special moment for both of them. Even if her little one didn’t remember in years to come, she would and would never be able to not remember. Just as the shepherds, she had been a witness. She was so thankful God had allowed them both to experience Him in such a special way.
We hope you catch the excitement of Christmas this year and experience Him in a special way too.