Another children’s Christmas story.
It was bedtime. Samara snuggled down close to her Mummy. Bedtime meant story time. Samara loved her Mummy’s stories, especially stories about her Mummy as a little girl.
“Tell me the story about when you were a little girl and met the baby,” Samara begged.
“You’ve heard that story a million times,” her Mummy said.
“But I love it. Please,” Samara pleaded.
“Alright,” Samara’s Mummy sighed and rubbed her daughter’s back.
“When I was a little girl my Daddy was a shepherd.”
“That means he looked after sheep out in the fields,” Samara interrupted.
“That’s right,” her Mummy said. Then she went on, “One night in the winter when it was especially dark out in the fields, my Daddy and the other shepherds saw a light in the sky and they heard a strange sound coming from behind the hills. Some of the shepherds said it was the sound of angels and the angels were announcing that a baby had been born in Bethlehem.”
“But your Daddy didn’t believe in angels,” Samara interrupted again.
“No,” her Mummy said. “My Daddy thought talk of angels was just silliness. Since my Mummy had gone away, my Daddy had been sad and he said he only believed in a warm fire, a good meal, and the love of his little girl.”
“He called you ‘My little Ab,” Samara said.
“That’s right. Daddy always called me ‘Ab.’ My real name was Abigail which means ‘Daddy’s joy,’ but when, Mummy died, Daddy said his joy had gone away.”
“So then the shepherds said they were going to see the baby,” Samara said.
“That’s right,” her Mummy went on, “even if my Daddy didn’t believe in angels the other shepherds were going to go to Bethlehem to see for themselves. So they herded the sheep into the sheep pens and set out to walk to Bethlehem.”
“But your Daddy didn’t go with them. He thought the other shepherds were silly,” said Samara.
“‘Silly’ was just the word my Daddy used,” said Samara’s Mummy.
“So your Daddy came home,” Samara went on. “And when he got home he told you about the silly shepherds and their story of angels and a newborn baby.”
“Who’s telling this story?” Samara’s Mummy laughed. Then she said, “But I didn’t think the shepherds were silly at all. I thought my Daddy should listen to the angels and we should go and see the baby too. I begged Daddy to take me to Bethlehem so we could see if there really was a baby. I thought if my Daddy saw the baby, maybe he would believe in angels and maybe he wouldn’t be so sad any more.
“After a long time, Daddy said we could go. He bundled me up in my warmest coat and boots. He put my furry hat on my head and pulled it down over my ears. Then we set out to Bethlehem. We didn’t really know where we were going, but I was sure we would know the way if only we believed the angels. Even if Daddy couldn’t believe, I would believe enough for both of us.
“As we walked, Daddy mumbled, ‘Nonsense… angels… babies. Give me a good warm dinner; that’s enough for me to believe in.’
“When we got to the village, Daddy wasn’t really paying attention to where we were going. So I led the way. I seemed to know at every corner which way to turn, until finally we came to a little stable behind an inn.”
“That’s where the baby was,” Samara said with excitement.
“Slow down,” her Mummy said, “You’ll spoil the story.
“At the stable there seemed to be a soft light behind the door; and I thought I heard a sound. It was a like music, but not any music I had ever heard before. I wondered if maybe this was the sound of angels. It made me feel warm inside. I was not at all afraid or shy. I pushed open the door. And do you know what I found?”
“A baby,” Samara cried.
“Yes Samara. There was a young Mummy and Daddy and a tiny baby lying in a funny old wooden bed with straw. I went forward pulling my Daddy by his hand. Then the strangest thing happened.”
Samara was quiet for this part of her Mummy’s story. She loved the hush that came into her Mummy’s voice when she told it.
After a moment Samara’s Mummy went on, “When we got to where we could see the baby, my Daddy looked down. Then he kneeled by the bed and reached out his big hand. He touched the baby’s soft cheek. I looked up at my Daddy’s face and saw tears in his eyes. But he didn’t look sad the way he had when Mummy was gone. My Daddy looked peaceful and soft like the light that surrounded this baby.”
Samara didn’t say anything for a minute. Then she poked her Mummy and said, “What happened next?”
Her Mummy went on, “Then my Daddy looked up at the baby’s Mummy and Daddy and asked, ‘What’s the baby’s name?’
‘His name is Jesus’ the baby’s Mummy answered.
“We stayed there by baby Jesus for a long time. It was quiet and peaceful. I could have stayed forever. It felt like there was nowhere else I would rather be.
After a long time, my Daddy said, ‘I must go back and tend the sheep.’ The baby’s Mother said, ‘Thank you for coming to visit our baby. We would be honoured if you would visit again.’
“Daddy took my hand and we turned slowly toward the door. When we got outside, Daddy was quiet. When he spoke, do you know what he said?”
“He said, ‘Abigail,’” Samara cried.
“That’s right,” her Mummy went on. “For the first time in a year, Daddy used my real name. He said, ‘Abigail, “Daddy’s joy”.’ Then he asked me ‘Do you know what the name ‘Jesus’ means?’ I said, ‘No Daddy. Tell me.’ My Daddy said, ‘The name ‘Jesus’ means ‘God saves.’ ‘What does that mean I asked.’ Daddy said, ‘It means God fixes things that are broken. And the angels wanted us to go and see this baby because Jesus is the way God wants to fix things.”
“Like he fixed your Daddy’s heart,” Samara said sleepily.
“Yes just like he fixed my Daddy’s heart,” her Mummy answered. “And now it is time for little girls to go to sleep.”
“What happened to the baby?” Samara asked.
“I don’t really know,” her mother replied. “We never did go back. They say that bad people tried to hurt him and his Mummy and Daddy took him far away to hide.”
“Do you think he grew up into a good man and maybe one day I might meet him?” Samara asked.
“Well,” her Mummy said, “We can always pray and ask God to help us keep our hearts open and then maybe one day we will experience the same love and gentleness my Daddy and I found when we met the baby Jesus. And maybe all that love and peacefulness did grow up into a man. It would be beautiful one day to meet such a person.”
“Let’s keep our eyes open for him all the time,” Samara said, as her eyes slowly closed in sleep.