Christmas abounds with stories, a memorable one having appeared in the December 1997 local paper about a young family that occurred in a St. Louis suburb. At the time, it generated much interest.

Paul, husband to Mary and father of four children, was known for his humor—even by the neighbors. Rarely did a month pass without one of his whimsical tricks lightening spirits. He also loved to decorate their home at Christmas; central to this effort was a large creche spotlighted on their front lawn. Placing the Baby Jesus in the straw-filled manager before attending Midnight Mass had become a cherished tradition.

However, before last year’s Christmas, Paul died of a virulent cancer, but Mary went ahead with the decorations and placed Baby Jesus in the manger before heading over to the church. 

Upon their return home, one of the children noticed the empty manger and began crying. This was too much, the mother thought as she approached the creche. Even more so was the letter she found in the manger:

Dear Mary and the Kids,

The St. Louis winters are too much for me, so I’ve gone to the beach in Florida. I love you all and will keep in touch.

The Baby Jesus

What was even more curious were the arrival of postcards on the twenty-fourth of every month, all sent from Baby Jesus, from different parts of the country.

This Christmas Eve, the decorations in place, the doorbell rang as the family enjoyed supper. It was an airport driver, his dark eyebrows locked in a quizzical expression, carrying their Baby Jesus, a pink plastic suitcase, and a letter. The kids crowded behind Mary as she received the items in her sweatered arms, all the while, heaving with the unknown.

         “The letter! The letter!” said the kids craning their necks for a closer look.

After she placed the Baby Jesus and the suitcase on the coffee table, she flopped upon the sofa, her ringed hand trembling as she tore open the envelope. Yes, always the same handwriting.

Dear Mary and the Kids,

At last, I’m so glad to be home again. The pink plastic suitcase is filled with mementos of where I’ve been: several for each of you. I hope you like them.


Baby Jesus

Later, Mary learned that Paul, with help from friends across the country, had rigged this conundrum, knowing that she and their children would have trouble grieving his loss. It worked.