Once in Royal David's Itty Bitty City

I came upon the smallest manger scene in the whole wide world the other day, at the new Ten Thousand Villages shop in town. It comes in a matchbox-size container: a tiny nativity that would easily fit in the palm of your hand. Now nobody can say there isn't any room at the Inn!

Of course, when I got it home, there was much excitement. The Crittergators, those dear creatures, wanted to open it up right away, so they could adore the Child. But I told them we must wait until Christmas eve, when the time would be right.

So on this day, we opened it up and out came Mary and Joseph and the sweet babe. Plus a pair of creatures: a white lamb and a donkey (I think), and some golden grasses. And instantly, this was the scene in our house: a moment of hope and quiet adoration as the Crittergators gathered 'round the manger.

But then the room began to fill, as other creatures arrived (see the whole gang in the extras). And then I heard a low rumble that started as a whisper and grew: the sound of all of those critters talking amongst themselves, chatting about what the miracle they were witnessing.

There was a fox, and a hedgehog or two, an alligator, camels, and a penguin. A billy goat, a swan, a blue hippo, and so many others; too many to count! And to this tale of a virgin birth, you'll pardon me if we added in a woolly mastodon, a unicorn, a dragon, and a couple of dinosaurs to round things out.

And then all of the creatures filed out quietly, leaving the Crittergators and the manger scene, once again, just as you see it above: with the critters gathered close to look upon the Christ-child's face and to help keep him warm; their song, a quiet four-part harmony of welcome and joy.

Merry Christmas! Merry Christmas, everyone!

The soundtrack song is this one, of course: Once in Royal David's City. I'm including two versions, one by Mary Chapin Carpenter, and one by Sinead O'Connor. Enjoy!

Also, in the extras: a photo of Dexter helping to inventory the chocolate chip cookies I made on this day!

And here's a bonus link to the original tale of the Crittergators in the Manger.

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