A Mob at the Manger

Our Fisher Price Little People Nativity set comes out only during the Christmas season. It is a toy, but a toy with meaning. Our kids are too old for it now, though they still insist we get it out every year in addition to our fancy, hand-painted ceramic set. When they were small it was something we hoped that, by playing with it, would make the Christmas story more treasured in their hearts. One morning in the weeks before Christmas, I entered the kitchen looking for breakfast and glanced into the living room to see evidence that this simple toy was indeed making its mark.

Crowded around the stable, visitors had come to see the little plastic baby Jesus. Two by two they came with Noah and Mrs. Noah from the ark. Zebras, alligators (or are they crocodiles?), giraffes, peacocks, pandas, hippos, jaguars, lions, and tropical birds joined the traditional Wise Men, camels, shepherds, cattle, donkeys, and sheep. Upon closer inspection, a few more special visitors were noted—the garbage man (the modern-day equivalent of a shepherd in Bible times), a baby and her parents (Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me…”), and a dog (a mutt, I’m sure). Upon first sight of this mob around the manger, my orderly self wanted to separate the ark play pieces from the Nativity ones and restore the toys to their right roles. But then I stopped to “ponder all these things in [my] heart” and thought better of myself. The child who claimed responsibility for the scene said, “It just seems like everyone [from the Little People world] would want to come to see Jesus.”

Just as in the Bible, there were no kings or queens, no rabbis or priests. Of course, in the Bible, there were only Wise Men and shepherds. There was no crowd. That first Christmas no one else cared too much about a little Baby born in a stable in a little town to a couple of teenagers—save a murderous king who was alarmed that it was rumored there was another King in town. But there will come a day when everyone, from the garbage man to the zebras, and even those in power, will have to acknowledge that who that Baby became is Lord of all. I think our kids got the the point.

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