“Grandfather, tell us the story,” one of the young boy said. The old man looked around to see the eager faces of the little ones standing around him. He held his wrinkled hands out to the warmth of the fire.
“Why are you rag muffins not asleep?” he asked.
“We want to hear the story before we go to sleep, Grandfather. Please tell us the story.”
“Okay, one story. Which one shall it be?” he asked as he grinned at the small boy.
“Oh, Grandfather, you tease us. We want to hear the story about the baby.”
The children all sat down around the fire. Excitement filled the air as the grandfather looked around at the small faces and started his tale. “Okay, but after the story, you must get your sleep.” The old man looked off into the distance as if seeing himself many years before.
“Many years ago when I was but just a boy, much like yourselves, I lived with my parents who operated an inn in Bethlehem. The inn was often visited by many people from different places, but I remember one time when we were extremely busy because people were coming from many places. You see, it was a time when people had to come to their homeland to be registered for a census. Everyone in the family was very busy taking care of all the people staying in the inn, and I remember my parents were so happy because they were going to make a lot of money.
One night, there was a knock at the door, and there was a man and his wife. They asked my father if he had room for them in the inn, but my father told them there were no more rooms. The man looked so sad because he said his wife and he had ridden for so long, and his wife needed to rest because she was going to have a child very soon.
My father looked at them and wanted to help them, but he had no place to put them. So he told them although he had no rooms, if they wanted to, they could stay behind the inn in the stables with the animals. There, he said, would be hay for a place to sleep, and at least, it would be a place where they would be dry. So they said that would do if that’s all there was.
From where I was sitting, I could see the couple through the opened door, and I wondered why they had waited so long to come into town because so many people had gotten there before them. I watched as my father closed the door and turn to tell my mother what had happened. Although I did not hear what he said, I could tell my mother was also sad that they could not help the young couple.
After a while my mother still thinking about the poor couple in the stable fixed a basket of bread and oil. She said for me to take it to the man and woman in the stable, so they would have something to eat.
As I started out to the stable, I looked up into the sky because there was a great star overhead, and the light was making the pathway to the stable brighter than I had ever seen it. I could see a lantern burning inside the stable, so I knew the man and woman must still be awake. I eased open the gate and started into the stable. But before I got completely inside, I saw the man sitting beside the woman who lay before him on a pile of hay covered by a blanket to make a bed.
The man looked up at me, and I noticed he had tears in his eyes. That surprised me because I had never seen a man cry before, but this man did not seem at all surprised to see me. He man smiled and motioned me over, and that’s when I saw the small baby lying beside his mother. I had seen babies before when my brothers and sisters were born, but this was the first time I had seen such a beautiful baby, and I thought how quiet he was.
I placed my basket of food on the blanket by the baby and explained that this was for them. The mother and father thanked me, and I went back into the house to tell my parents what I had witnessed. My parents were astonished that such a thing could have happened so quickly, and my mother went to the stable to see for herself.
As I watched my mother make her way up the path toward the stable in the bright star’s light, it seemed to me I could hear singing. I listened again and I remember thinking that it sounded so beautiful that it must be the angels singing. And even to this day, when I see a bright star in the heavens, I feel I can hear the angels singing.
Then my father saw me and told me it was time for sleep. And now, little ones, that’s exactly where you need to be for the day comes early, and there is much work to be done by all.”
Although the old man could tell the children would like to hear some more of the story, the young ones left to go into the house. As the grandfather sat there in the quiet of the night, he looked up into the dark heavens and thought about that night so long ago. He smiled as he thought about how nice it was to tell the story of the baby to the little ones. And as he sat there quietly thinking, he tilted his head a little and listened. It was as if he could hear the angels singing again.