Since I was a little girl, my mom and I had always waited for Christmas Eve to put baby Jesus in the manger. The empty cradle was symbolic of our waiting for Jesus Christ to arrive at Christmas and I would always get so excited to give him a kiss at midnight (or before bed) on Christmas Eve and then each day until the Epiphany on January 6th.
This year, however, we tried something different. For the first two weeks of Advent, we kept baby Jesus in the mangers—you might notice that manger is plural because we have four Nativities in our house. Today, my son and I went around the house, picked up each baby Jesus and nestled them in a small shoe-box filled with tissue paper. One of the baby Jesus’s is glued down and I don’t want to risk breaking the entire thing. Nevertheless, he was excited to collect all the “babies” and proud that he got to put them in the box. Before placing them in the box, my little love gave each baby Jesus figurine a kiss. We then closed the box and I wrapped it in Christmas wrapping paper. Then, he proudly put the box under the tree.
Not a minute passed that the box was under the tree and he started demanding “Open! Open! Open! Baby! Baby! Baby!” I reminded him that baby Jesus is coming soon and we will open it before bed on Christmas Eve. He settled down once I promised him that he will get to unwrap the box and put Jesus back in each of the mangers.
The Best Present of All
The reason that I decided to let Jesus stay in the manger for the first two weeks of Advent is because my son is still very young, and I wanted him to get used to seeing Jesus in the manger. Toddlers have a short memory span for some things (not ice cream or cookies!) and I wanted him to realize that Jesus belongs in the manger. While the Nativities were up last year, he was still a baby who couldn’t even walk yet, let alone understand what the Nativity was besides something that he could throw across the room if he had his chance. (Thankfully he never did get that chance!)
This year, each day he would give kisses to baby Jesus and “Mama” Mary. Today, when we put Jesus in the box and I told him that Jesus will be here soon, it will hopefully make a bigger impact on him come Christmas Eve than if he were to just never see Jesus in the manger beforehand.
The box of baby Jesus figurines will also be the first present that he gets to open. This is quite symbolic to the fact that despite all the hours we spend shopping, wrapping and exchanging gifts, Jesus Christ is the best gift that we will ever receive.
“Because of his boundless love, Jesus became what we are that he might make us to be.” – Saint Irenaeus of Lyons
Next year, I will continue with the tradition with my little love of placing baby Jesus in the box, wrapping it and putting this greatest gift under the tree. I pray that my son will always nestle Jesus in his heart and soul and carry Him there for all his life; realizing that Jesus Christ’s birth is our greatest gift.
Do you have any special traditions with baby Jesus that you share with your family? Please share with us on Facebook.
As always, thank you for reading. God bless you and may the Blessed Virgin Mary be with you always!