“Our Home Evening Manger,” Ensign, Dec. 1991, 65
One particular Christmas stands out clearer in my mind than any other. We didn’t have much money that year, and Mom and Dad were having one of their “meetings.” When they needed to discuss something important, they always went into their bedroom and locked the door. My seven brothers and sisters and I waited outside the door. We thought the meeting would never end. Finally the door opened.
“We have a surprise this year instead of a Christmas tree,” Mom began.
What, no Christmas tree? I thought. What would my friends think? Mom was speaking again.
“We’ll put it together for family home evening,” she concluded.
What could it be? The next few days were filled with anticipation and suspense. But finally, the time set aside for home evening arrived.
Dad came home from work with straw in the back of the car. We sang and prayed, and then it began. Dad got some wood from the backyard and brought it to the front porch. What is he doing with those old, well-seasoned boards? I wondered. Dad started pounding in the nails and asking for this or that. One of us would scurry off and bring it to him. Magic filled the air, and we all felt the spirit of Christmas as we worked together.
Then it was finished. It looked like—a manger.
“Get the straw,” Dad directed. A coarse blanket of straw was strewn over the manger, and then Mom told my younger sister to run and get her favorite doll. It was not long before a scraggly, often-hugged doll with bald patches appeared. Dad put the manger in the corner where the tree usually stood while Mom helped us dress the doll in swaddling clothes. The star was hung above the wooden structure, and a gold garland was carefully arranged around the edges. My little sister added the final touch when, holding her doll as if it truly were the Christ child, she laid it reverently in the manger.
We must have sung some songs after that. I don’t remember. But I do remember the love, the pure love of Christ, that entered our home that night and stayed throughout the time the manger stood. Christmas was sparse that year, but it didn’t seem to matter much, because our hearts were full.