Some stories are worth repeating. This is one of them.
I don’t know where I heard it, but someone once told me that donkeys know the Christmas story because it was a donkey that carried Mary to Bethlehem and was there when Jesus was born. At the time, we had three donkeys – Old Maggie, Tessa, and a young colt named Lexi. I wondered if they really did know the story, so on Christmas Eve, my daughter Cherith and I decided to read it to them.
It was late. The barnyard was dark and still. The chickens murmured sleepily as we passed their coop. After the icy cold outside, the stable felt warm and cozy. The donkeys crowded around us, pushing their noses into our pockets, looking for the usual treat.
I brought out my bible. Bright, lash-fringed eyes regarded the book with donkey curiosity. My daughter held the flashlight steady while I began to read. “And it came to pass in those days…”
Maggie snorted softly and nodded her head several times. Tessa moved a little closer, her large brown eyes seeing things far away, as if remembering a dream. Lexi brushed lovingly against my arm, her ears brushing the side of my face. “And there were in the same country…”
The stable was silent and still except for the sound of the donkeys’ soft breathing. They were listening intently to me, their ears bending to catch every work. “And they came with haste, and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger.”
A long sigh from Lexi blew hot breath down my neck. She looked towards Old Maggie, wanting to know if the story was true. Maggie gently nuzzled Lexi’s ear, whispering donkey words to her. Tessa nodded her head and blinked her eyes several times.
“Maggie knew the story,” my daughter whispered, her voice full of awe, “and I think Tessa remembered it. And now Lexi knows it, too.”
“I think Maggie would have told her tonight if we hadn’t come out,” I said.
My Dad used to tell me that at midnight on Christmas Eve, the animals all kneel down. He said he saw it once when he was a little boy, and after that magical moment with my donkeys, I believe he really did.
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