Short Stories

A gift for baby Jesus

Lea is already tired of always being the smallest. Her brother Natan, who is already big, has the right to do many things in the Bethlehem hostel. But whenever she wants to be helpful, they answer her:

“Never mind, Lea, you’re still too small to do that!”

Perched on her four years, Lea watches the pilgrims. There are many of these in Bethlehem these days. The emperor decided to have the whole population listed and people came to subscribe to long lists. At the inn, the mother cooks endlessly while the father serves the customers. Every morning Natan goes to the market to buy vegetables, haggle and discuss prices but, as usual, no one pays attention to Lea, the smallest.

One beautiful morning, Lea can’t take it anymore. She takes her favorite blanket, the big red one, which wraps her up and comforts her, and goes to find her mother.

– I also liked to help! Natan can do everything, but I… I am good for nothing! They always say I’m too small!

– O my dear, you are very important to all of us! – says the surprised mother, taking her in her lap. – What would we do without you? You’re still too young to cook or fetch water, but if you really want to help us, I’ll call you when I see you can do something.

– It’s ok! Says Lea, beaming. – In the meantime I’ll play.

Outside, Lea plays for a long time with the little lamb and her doll Ana and then goes to play with her brother. Until a group of visitors arrived. By then Natan had to go home to help his parents.

That night there are a lot of people in the hostel. People come and go on and on, in a hellish noise. The noise is so loud that Leah barely hears her mother calling her from the back of the courtyard:

– Lea! Lea! Can you come help me, please?

The girl runs across the kitchen and appears immediately at the entrance. There, next to his mother, he finds a man and a young lady sitting on a donkey.

– What can I do? – Lea asks, out of breath.

“Can you accompany these gentlemen to the stable?” Asks her mother. “The hostel is full, I don’t have a free bed for tonight anymore!” But be careful that the donkey does not slip on the rocks.

Lea carefully descends the slope. Glad to go ahead, he guides them slowly, very slowly, to the bottom of the path.

Lea never imagined that the stable could please the young woman! Without regret, she kneels and thanks God for the calm and the fresh straw just found there. In dismay, Lea watched her caress her little lamb for a long time.

Suddenly the brother comes to the door

– Hurry up, Lea, it’s time to go to sleep!

“Good night …” a soft voice whispers. Lea notices how tired the young woman looks. For her there ends a long day.

Back at the inn, Lea goes to bed. Snuggled in the warmth of the bed, she prays her prayers wrapped in the blanket. The parents come after to kiss her and then Lea flies to dreamland.

She slept soundly when suddenly… In the middle of the night, when everything is calm and quiet, something makes her wake up.

“It’s weird,” Lea says to herself. “There is a light shining in the stable.” I wonder why? Will pilgrims need something? I have to go see…

Immediately, she wraps herself in the warm blanket and goes down the path.

Slowly, Lea opens the stable door, and you’ll never forget what you see there. Lying in the straw, the young woman holds a newborn in her arms, and her face shines with joy.

Lea doesn’t hesitate a second…

Take the blanket off your back, carefully fold it once, twice, then put it in the manger.

“Take… it’s for the baby,” she says.

The young mother comes to lay her boy on the beautiful red blanket. Lea’s heart beats hard. You are so happy!

At the threshold of the door, the shepherds wait. They say angels appeared to them, announcing that a new king was to be born that night in a stable. A star led them there. Lea listens in wonder. Suddenly, the parents and brother, too, approach. When her mother sees the red blanket, she holds Lea against her. Take pride in your girl. And then you realize that truly important things can be done, even at four years old. Tina Jähnert; Alesssandra Roberti (ill.) The Venue of the Petit Jésus Zurich, North Nord Conditions, 2004

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