Christmas is a season when farm animals and farmers are blessed.
“The stars in the bright sky looked down were he lay, the little Lord Jesus asleep on the hay.”
(Source: Away in a Manger, Author Unknown, 1885)
“Away in a Manger,” is one of my favorites, and probably one of the first carols I learned as a youngster. Today, it’s on everyone’s short list as a Christmas gem.
It tells the Christmas story in such a tender, child-like way. As a farm kid, I actually understood what a manger was, and thought about what a little baby must have felt, sleeping in a manger of hay, with livestock lounging beside him in the barn.
Farm folks should feel pretty blessed, because the backdrop of the Christmas Nativity story is very rural. Not only were farm animals the first witnesses to the happenings of this great night, but shepherds in the surrounding fields, watching their flocks, were some of the first to learn of what the birth actually meant and were some of the first to visit the baby.
I always felt that farmers and farm animals had a particular sacredness, because of their kinship to the baby Jesus in this way. Recalling the song as a kid, during chores I usually bedded the hogs a little deeper, with the cleanest straw on Christmas Eve. And the bottle calves were fed just a little extra. And the cows received an extra bale of hay. It was always a special night on the farm and around our mangers too. And it continues to be with my children today.
However, around this holiday season, there is one animal on our farm that may have been inadvertently harmed. Our dog – Dolly – was forced by my children to wear a silly elf hat for our Christmas photo. The embarrassment was a bit much for her as you can see.
From the Arens family to your families, we wish you all a very Merry Christmas.