A repost of my favorite Christmas story
By: Carolyn Charismata Weaver
“Blue light special on aisle nine. Children’s shoes for ten dollars,” boomed the man’s voice over the speaker. Shoppers turned their buggies eagerly towards the ominous blue light spinning around and around illuminating the narrow aisle.
Sarah, my three year-old, and I continued our Christmas shopping for her daddy and baby sister ignoring the people pushing by.
Passing the Christmas trees decked in colored lights, we slowed down, as she declared, “Pretty Mama!” Then she clapped her hands to “Frosty, the Snowman”, as I pressed the red nose of the famous character for the second time. The toy’s hips swung back and forth in rhythm. Commercial Christmas in all its glory shone before us.
“Need to get moving,” I muttered to myself.
Turning my attention back to the duty at hand, I asked, “What do you want to get daddy for Christmas?”
With an inquisitive expression, Sarah tilted her head to the side. “But mommy, it’s baby Jesus’s birthday. What we get Jesus for Christmas?”
“Hmm. You are right,” I said, “What do you want to get Jesus for His birthday?”
She paused for a moment. “Socks,” she said, “Socks, Mama.”
Puzzled, I said, “Why socks?”
“To keep His feet warm. They must be cold in the stable.”
“Of course. You are right,” I said. “Off to find warm socks then.”
With all other gifts forgotten, we strolled to the sock aisle. “How about these, sweetheart?” I held up some multi-colored socks for her to see, but she had already spotted the ones she wanted.
Pointing, she said, “No, Mama. Those over there.” I brought the brightly colored, fuzzy socks closer for her to see, as she was firmly strapped in the buggy.
Handing them to her, she held them tightly as we finished our shopping.
Later that evening, she helped me carefully wrap the precious gift in a small box with bright green paper and a red bow on top. “To Jesus. Love, Sarah” the tag read.
“Hon. What do we do now?” I turned to my husband for advice, after we tucked Sarah into bed. “If we have a birthday party for Jesus, and He doesn’t show up, then what?”
Suddenly, a light bulb went off in my head, “I know.”
“What?” my husband said.
“We will find one of those live nativities and let her leave her present there.”
Surfing the internet, we frantically searched to find one in our area. Sure enough, God provided:7:00 p.m., that coming Saturday night.
A couple of days later, I bundled the girls up in their matching red, wool coats their grandmother had purchased for them, pulled hats over their ears, and placed gloves on their fingers. After buckling them into their car seats and handing Sarah the precious treasure, we were off to wish baby Jesus a very Happy Birthday.
Her sister snuggled close to my chest in the baby carrier, while Sarah held tightly to her daddy’s hand with one and proudly to the gift with the other. My sister and five year-old nephew met us there to join the celebration.
Abruptly, Roman soldiers stopped us at the theatrical entrance to Bethlehem, “Why have you come to the city tonight? “ they grunted.
Innocently, Sarah peered up in their harsh faces, “To bring baby Jesus a present,” but daddy quickly added, as he cleared his throat, “To pay our taxes, of course.”
The guards snickered to themselves, as they said, “Welcome to Bethlehem then.”
Shuffling by quickly, we paid our pretend taxes at the next booth, and then made our way through the city in search of the baby.
Past booth after booth we walked, each selling spices, hand-woven cloths, whittled wooden toys, or other treasures. The smells of fresh bread dipped in olive oil, sweet dates, and sheep filled the air. Daddy took the gift from Sarah and tucked it under his arm, as Sarah and her cousin explored the wonderful treats.
“Look, Mama. The shepherds!” Sarah exclaimed.
Sure enough the shepherds stood in the field watching over their sheep by night. Suddenly, music began to play, while behind the shepherds, spotlights lit up the sky. A man dressed in a white robe with golden, make-shift angel wings attached to his back appeared, declaring the good news that Emmanuel was born that night. Sarah jumped up and down clapping her hands with joy, while her cousin chased a stray sheep.
“But where is baby Jesus?” Sarah asked, turning to me.
“I don’t know, sweetie. But maybe we should try to find the innkeeper. He would know,” I said.
Behind us at the gate, the wise men filed in with camel in tow. “Maybe we should follow them to find where baby Jesus is,” daddy wisely added.
“There’s no room in the inn,” a man dressed in a cape and sash said, as he halted us from following.
“But I have a present for baby Jesus,” Sarah said, as she cautiously pushed it forward for the man to see.
“Hmm,” the man replied, “You have heard about the baby, who is said to be the new king. We must keep this quiet from the Romans for they would seek to kill a King of the Jews.” He bent down almost whispering in Sarah’s ear. “Come then, little one. Come see Baby Jesus.” Sarah’s eyes lit up as he allowed us to pass through his door. “Go out through the back, to the stables.”
The wise men were just kneeling, presenting their gifts to a young mother cradling a baby in her arms. Joseph stood watchfully to the side. Illuminating the perfect scene, a shaft of light beamed into the heavens behind them.
“Oh, Mama. We found Him,” Sarah whispered.
My eyes brimmed with tears. “Go ahead, Sarah. Go to baby Jesus, and give Him the birthday present.”
Timidly, she approached, gently placing the gift at Mary’s feet next to the gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
At that moment, her cousin overcome with the desire to also bring a gift, began to sing, “Happy birthday, Jesus. I’m so glad it’s Christmas. All the tinsel and lights, and the presents are nice, but the real gift is you.” He spread his arms wide open for dramatic effect. In turn, we all joined in.
Mary’s eyes filled with tears, as Joseph smiled. “Thank you, precious ones,” she said, “Thank you for these beautiful gifts.”
Sarah ran back to our arms. “Do you think He’ll like it?”
“Oh Sarah, Jesus will love it, for He loves you,” I said. We snuggled together, as her daddy leaned over kissing her on the forehead.
“Time to go,” daddy said, but as we solemnly walked away, I glanced back to etch the image in my memory.
For years, we made the same trek to find Baby Jesus, but as the children got older, new traditions replaced the old. But I will never forget that first holy night when heaven kissed earth, and the song of joy broke through our darkness.