Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, there was a baby born in a manger. The baby’s parents, traveling to comply with a decreed census count, begged the innkeeper for a room, but, as many were on the road because of the ordained census, there were no rooms left. The innkeeper kindly allowed them to spend the night out in the stable.
That night, this baby was born, and it was a wondrous thing. This baby was special, most special, whose birth had been foretold by great prophets. Angels sang in the skies, shepherds left their flocks to gather at the stable and honor their newborn king and his parents, and wise men from afar came with gifts. It was a night like no other.
It was after, though, after the angels had finished their singing, after the shepherds had returned to their flocks, and the little holy family was alone again, that the baby began to cry. His mother, named Mary, was a first-time mother and very young herself, but did all the things she knew to do to try to comfort her small son. But no amount of rocking, cuddling, singing, feeding, or changing, silenced the baby’s crying.
A small tabby cat sat watching from the back of the stable. The cat saw Mary try and try to console the baby, finally putting him back in the manger and beginning to cry herself out of frustration. The little cat came and sat at Mary’s feet, then a moment later, jumped up into the manger, curled herself up against the wailing babe, and began to purr.
In just a minute or two, the baby quieted, then fell sound asleep. Mary had watched with wonder, and now with great gratitude in her heart, reached out and placed her hand on the cat’s head. “Thank you, little cat, thank you for soothing my son, and helping him to sleep”.
Today, all descendants of that cat bear an “M” on their forehead, a mark of great distinction and honor, a visible reminder of Mary’s gratitude to a small cat in the manger.
This is one of my favorite Christmas legends, and I share it with you. Christmas is a magical, wondrous, heart-filling time, and I wish for all of you the peace and joy that we are meant to have.
Merry Christmas, everybody.