The following is a story told by a young father who was babysitting his four small children.
"Babysitting to me means reading the paper while the kids mess up the house. Only that day I wasn't reading. I was fuming. On every page of the paper gifts glittered and reindeer pranced and I was told there were three days left in which to buy things I couldn't afford and nobody needed.
"What" I asked myself did the glitter and the rush have to do with the birth of Christ?
"Daddy, we have a play to put on. Do you want to see it?
"I didn't. But I had fatherly responsibilities so I entered the living room. Right away I knew it was a Christmas play when I saw a lighted flashlight wrapped in swaddling clothes lying in a shoe box .
"Rex (age 6) came in wearing my bathrobe and carrying a mop handle. He sat on a stool, looking at the flashlight.
"Nancy (age 10) draped a sheet over her head, stood behind Rex and stated 'I'm Mary and this boy is Joseph. Usually Joseph stands up and Mary sits down. But Mary sitting down is taller than Joseph standing up so we thought it looked better this way.'
"In came Trudy (age 4) at a full run. She has never learned to walk. There were pillow cases over her arms. She spread them wide and said only 'I'm an angel'.
"Then came Anne (age 8). I knew she represented a wise man. (She moved like she was riding a camel-she had on her mother's high heels.) She had on all the jewelry available and carried three items on a pillow, undoubtedly--gold, frankincense and myrrh.
"She undulated across the room, bowed to the flashlight, to Mary, to Joseph, to the angel and to me and announced: 'I am all three wise men. I bring precious gifts--gold, circumstance and mud.'
"That was all. The play was over. I didn't laugh. I prayed.
"How near the truth Anne was! We come at Christmas burdened down with gold--with the showy gift and the tinsely tree. Under the circumstances we can do no other, circumstances of our time and place and custom. And it seems a bit like 'mud' when we think of it.
"But I looked at the shinning faces of my children, as their audience of one applauded them, and remembered that a Child showed us how these things can be transformed.
"I remembered that this Child came into a material world and in doing so eternally blessed the material.
"He accepted the circumstances, imperfect and frustrating, into which He was born, and thereby infused them with the divine.
"And as for 'mud'--to you and me it may be something to sweep off the rug, but to all children it is something to build with.
"Children see so surely through the tinsel and the habit and the earthly, to the love which, in them all, strains for expression."