And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.—MATTHEW 1:21
“Even if our grandson is a city boy, he needs a play barn,” my parents explained when I called to thank them for the farm set they had given our two-year-old son, Nate. My parents were in Wisconsin, along with aunts, uncles and cousins from all over the Midwest, gathered for food, laughter and milking the cows while celebrating Christmas at the farmstead that had been in our family for a hundred years.
Meanwhile, my husband, Kevin, Nate and I were spending Christmas in our new home near Phoenix. There were plenty of buildings and plastic snowmen but not a farm animal or relative in sight. We made our own joy, adding tamales to our traditional menu and playing carols while we opened gifts, including Nate’s favorite, “Away in a Manger.” With toddler enthusiasm, he always shouted the line where Jesus was “asleep on the hay!”
Nate played with his new barn under the Christmas tree while I picked up wrapping paper and bits of ribbon. When I went to straighten the Nativity set by the fireplace, though, I realized Baby Jesus was missing. I checked under the furniture and even sorted through the trash can.
“Nate, where is Baby Jesus?” I asked.
“Asleep on the hay,” he said, pointing to his red barn. Sure enough, Baby Jesus was resting next to the feeding trough, surrounded by the animals. Even as a city boy, our son knew where Jesus belonged on Christmas Day—in a barn of new beginnings.
Dear Jesus, fill my heart with a child’s wonder this Christmas so that I know where to look for you.