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Sandy the Farm Hound
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A Christmas lamb
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A Christmas lamb
Traditions make holiday more special

The Shoppes of Brentwood had lit their huge Christmas tree in the town of Wilson right after Thanksgiving. Sandy the Farm Hound and the Bakers had already been driving by the tree listening to Christmas songs on their car CD player when they would go into town at night.

It was a tradition that Emma Baker loved seeing the tree towering over them with all of its lights and blasting out "’Tis the Season to be Jolly” with the windows down. Sandy loved it too. She liked the feeling of the wind blowing back her furry ears, as her tongue hung out in delight, a definite smile curling her lips up.

Sandy had just returned home from such a trip and had nestled down on her favorite braided rug in front of the big stone fireplace at the Baker’s farm house. A warm fire crackled behind her, warming the toes of the quilted velvet stockings that hung from the mantel. Golden rings of light encircled the electric candles in the windows, casting shadows on the evergreen wreaths that hung above them from red velvet ribbons. Greenery was draped across the mantel, and tiny lights sparkled on the Christmas tree like tiny jewels against a green background.

The smell of chocolate chip cookies baking mingled in the air with the smell of brown sugar ham that was cooling on the counter and potatoes boiling on the stove. The Christmas tree also scented the room with that wonderful Christmas smell that only comes from a living tree. All of it combined to give Sandy’s nose a workout that she totally loved. It was definitely Christmas at the Baker farm.

A heavy snow began to fall outside the window. Big flakes of fluffy white made Emma Baker squeal with delight as she leaned on the window in the kitchen. She thought in her 5-year-old noggin that this must be one of the most wonderful Christmases yet. Sandy could hear Mr. Baker tell Emma that he needed to go out and check on the sheep since a steady snow was falling.

After going back to the bedroom, Mr. Baker came back through the living room with his work gloves and coat on. Sandy stood up and stretched and followed him outside to go down to the sheep pasture. She loved snow and knew to stay close to Mr. Baker on such a snowy night. Once, she had gotten separated from him in the snow, and the porch light had guided her home.

Emma and Mrs. Baker were at the window again when Sandy and Mr. Baker came back about an hour later. Mr. Baker had a big smile on his face that told Emma something special was about to happen. She could see her daddy shake the snow off his boots and take his gloves off as he came up on the porch. When he came inside, cold air blew in behind him, making Emma shiver for a split second. Sandy’s fur felt cold as she dashed around Emma heading for the fireplace. Mr. Baker had some good news as Mrs. Baker fixed him a cup of coffee. One of the sheep was about to have a baby!

It would be a little while before the lamb would be born. They had time to eat and open presents before walking back down to the barn.

Opening presents was always fun. Emma’s face beamed with happiness as she tore the wrapping paper and bows off and saw what her heart desired. One of the presents she got was a pair of waterproof mittens. They were pink and blue, a pair she had picked out of a catalogue that came to her house about two months before Christmas.

Emma could hardly wait to put on her new mittens and walk with her family down to the barn in the snow. And that is just what they did. As the family walked into the barn, Mrs. Baker and Emma smiled in surprise. Mr. Baker had strung little white Christmas lights from the lofts above, and warm, golden light flickered from several lanterns hung on pegs, softly lighting the hay, the sheep and the Bakers’ own smiling faces.

Within about an hour, a newborn lamb was born on the soft hay as his mother nurtured and loved on him. "We have a Christmas lamb!” Mr. Baker said. The tired mother lamb licked her baby’s woolly head.

What a gift! And as the Bakers adored their new little lamb, they began to sing, "Away in a Manger,” reflecting on the first Christmas when Christ was born on a bed of hay. It was new life in a routine world. It was beauty born in a certain place and time. There was a shepherd to help his sheep on a cold night. Sandy adored this celebration on this Christmas Eve night.

She loved the smell of the sheep and the barn, a soft earthy scent. She also loved everybody being together. She looked at Emma who was petting the mama sheep on the head with her mittened hand as Sandy stood beside her to be petted next. Then, Mr. Baker pulled a big rawhide bone from his pocket and gave it to Sandy for her Christmas present. In all of the excitement, he had waited to give it to her until now. Her tail wagged so hard that she almost fell over.

Later that night, as packages lay scattered under the Christmas tree, and love and candlelight warmed the house, Sandy curled up in front of the big stone fireplace again. She thought she must be loved very much. For all of us are loved if we stop to think about it. And all of us have a Master who loves us and shepherds us through the cold, dark nights and also through life’s wonderful joys.

A lamb has been born in the glowing light

Of the lantern down at the barn tonight.

The frigid air broke with the sounds of a "baaa,”

To let us know that new life was there.

A fresh bed of hay for a wearied mom,

A shelter, a warmth, a comforting calm.

The family all there with smiles on their faces,

From the Christmas bustle, a refreshing oasis.

Singing "Away in a Manger” as reflections were made,

Back to the very first Christmas, and a Lamb in the hay.

A Master born as a baby boy,

Christ into mortal, yet holy, what joy!

We all have a Master to be born in our lives,

If we’ll open our hearts, our minds, and our eyes.

Children and grown ups and old ones draw near.

Let us sing unabandoned, for Christmas is here!
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