It’s a simple tradition. We do it for the children. But after all the unwrapping of Christmas morning, it is the ritual I am still thinking about.For weeks we worked slowly to fill a manger. Each time the children performed an act of kindness, made someone’s bed, cleared the table, let a sibling have that coveted spot on the couch for stories, they placed a pinch of hay between wood. The days were filled with plenty of non-hay-earning acts. Ugly words, pushing and punching. But there was effort. And each time I saw goodness, I tried to point it out, reward with a handful of hay.
On Christmas Eve, five-year-old Ali wrapped baby Jesus in a white dish towel and laid him in the manger. There, all our acts of charity and selflessness cushioned him, gave him place among us.