Let me share a special tale with you. My puppet, JaNee, has befriended a little angel from my Christmas box who is about to narrate the Christmas story to her. As you follow their journey, imagine the scene set with a nativity display featuring all the characters of this timeless story. Now, JaNee had to sit properly at the table as instructed by Angel, ready to dive into the story of the nativity, a story she had not seen unfold until now.

——

‘I had to sit down at the table, sit properly to hear the story, yes. And Angel had set up the little stable, which I hadn’t seen before, the stable, but it was there all the same!’

Look,” said Angel, “this is the stable, the stable where baby Jesus was born. It’s a regular stable and actually the home of the sheep and cows, and they belonged to a farmer who lived there. See them? The cow and the sheep? So, the stable is their home, and it was a bit of a coincidence that Joseph and Mary ended up in that stable. I’ll tell you how that happened. The emperor, who was the boss of the land, had decreed that everyone should return to the place where they were born, and for Joseph and Mary, that was Bethlehem. They no longer lived there, but because the emperor had ordered it, they had to go there. It wasn’t nice because Mary was expecting; she had a little baby in her belly, and it wouldn’t be long before the baby was born. But they had to travel because the emperor had said so. Joseph thought he would walk and Mary could sit on their little donkey, so she wouldn’t get too tired from walking.”

And when they arrived in Bethlehem, it was already dark, and Mary and Joseph were very tired, but all the hotels in Bethlehem were full, there was nowhere they could rest, no one had a bed for them. Mary was crying because she wanted to sleep so badly, what were they going to do now? And then Joseph saw the stable, look, here they are arriving at the stable.

We can sleep here,’ said Joseph, ‘we can make a bed out of straw, it’s nice and soft, it’s also quite warm here, and I’m sure the cow and the sheep won’t mind sharing their stable.’ And that was true, the cow and the sheep were willing to share their stable with Joseph and Mary. And that night, the baby was born. Mary didn’t have a cradle with her, so Joseph made a bed out of straw, Mary wrapped the baby in a few warm cloths, and then it was almost as if the child had a real cradle. Joseph and Mary knew that this child was special, an angel had told them so. The child that was born was the son of God, but God himself couldn’t bear a child, so Mary had to do it, and he was to be named Jesus. Look here, you can see him lying in his bed.’

Many people knew that a child would be born, an important child, and that a star in the sky would guide the way to the child. The guiding star. If they followed that star, they would find the child. Many people came to the stable, as everyone was naturally curious to see what the important child, the Son of God, looked like. First, the shepherds came to see. Do you know what shepherds are? Shepherds are men who have lots of sheep and always walk around with their flock in search of fresh grass for the sheep to eat. There aren’t as many shepherds nowadays, but back then, there were a lot, and they are always outside, so they saw the star first and went to the stable. But kings from other countries also came, who had heard that the child was born and wanted to see the child and bring gifts. Look, here you can see three kings on their way to baby Jesus.’

“But they had to travel really far, those kings didn’t live nearby and came on their camels because walking would be too far, but they still wanted to do it, they still wanted to go to the child, and they found him, just look.’

‘”Joseph and Mary stayed in the stable until Mary was well enough to travel again, and many people visited during that time; everyone wanted to see baby Jesus. And of course, he didn’t know yet how special he was, he was still just a baby, but even special people have to be born, right? Otherwise, they wouldn’t exist. They were all once babies, toddlers, and young children; they all had to grow up. The child didn’t know yet how important he would become, but many other people already did. This child was born because God wanted it so; Jesus was born to do something good for the world, and that’s why we also call Christmas the festival of light, yes, light because Jesus was born to bring peace, and peace is good, right? When there’s peace, there’s no fighting, people aren’t angry with each other, and no one has to be afraid. And that’s what we celebrate at Christmas, that’s why you see lights and nativity scenes everywhere, we celebrate that Jesus was born then.’

‘I am quite speechless, you can see that, can’t you? But I find it a beautiful story and am also glad that I now understand a bit better why we light so many lights at Christmas.’

JaNee

Author

I am a former teacher, passionate trainer, and author of the book 'The Hand Puppet as an Educational Tool'. As an expert in using hand puppets to strengthen relationships, challenge language development, and increase children's engagement, I work with parents, educators, childcare professionals, counselors, therapists and others who want to use a puppet as a bridgebuilder. I teach you how to bring a hand puppet to life, make it recognizable, and effectively integrate it into your conversations and activities. My playful and relationship-oriented approach helps you see more from children, communicate with them in different ways, and enhance their participation.

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Published in a renowned Dutch professional journal for early childhood specialists.

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