When my brother was in cub scouts (ding back the early 90’s), his troop made something that would become a family tradition. It was called Straw for the Manger, and it had a poem about creating a manger of straw by doing good deeds unnoticed. Every year we would put out the small wooden manger (empty) and next to it, a fabric bag of straw. Every time we did something good for someone else, we’d sneak to the manger and lay one piece of straw in it. As each December day passed, we watched as this manger of straw grew without verbal appraisal or self pats on the back. By Christmas day, we loved to see how big of a bed we had prepared for baby Jesus.
The poem with it goes like this:
Don’t worry, I did create and upload your copy of this poem as well!
THEN! Ding forward to 2010, a story that goes along with this activity was published! I don’t know if my parents new it was based on a true story, but sure enough in the December 2010 issue of the Friend magazine there it was.
(spoiler alert!) I’m giving these as gifts this year to my Visiting Teaching families with young kids. My dad whipped up these miniature mangers (they are about 6 inches tall), and we collected straw from neighbors who were tossing them out after their Harvest decorations were obsolete. I printed the story to give with the poem, manger, and baggie of straw.
Not only does this make for a cute and thoughtful gift, but it is a tradition with meaning.