Saving Baby Jesus from the Trash Man. (A Christmas Story.)

Saving Baby Jesus from the Trash Man. (A Christmas Story.) December 20, 2014

I am a runner and four or five days a week, in the dim early hours of morning, I jog around town. My path is usually the same, I hug the nearby river as closely as possible, and pass the same houses and landmarks. There’s something comforting about the familiarity the route offers, it’s part of my get-ready-for-the-day-ahead routine.

One morning, about ten years ago, I noticed something odd during my run. It was early-December, a garbage day, and one house had several miscellaneous items out at the curb for pick-up. As I passed the house, I noticed that mixed in with the big black trash bags and discarded home goods were several old-fashioned Christmas lawn ornaments, the kind that light up.

There were a couple of four-foot high plastic candles, a giant candy cane and two tall wise men (I’m not sure what happened to the third). And then, out of the corner of my eye, I noticed something else in the trash. Sitting close to the ground was a light-up Baby Jesus in a manger.

It was this last sighting that literally stopped me in my tracks. I walked up to take a closer look, and while the other ornaments were chipped and worn, the Baby Jesus looked to be in pretty good shape. Oh well, I thought, I suppose it no longer lights up. I started on my way again, but went no further than a few feet when I came to a sudden but firm realization:

BABY JESUS HAD TO BE SAVED.

I scooped him up and began to make the two-mile trek back home, awkwardly holding the oversized ornament in both arms as I ran. Something felt right about it, it was good to know I was saving the baby from King Herod—I mean, the trash man. I suppose I looked funny jogging down the street. Some people walk with a cross over their shoulder, I run with a Baby Jesus.

Baby Jesus under our Christmas tree.
Baby Jesus under our Christmas tree.

I thought my wife might not like the fact I was bringing home a trash-picked Christmas decoration, but when I brought Baby Jesus indoors, she asked me to plug it in to see if it worked. And to our surprise, Baby Jesus lit up just fine.

Each year, we put up a Christmas tree, and I know for some families the crowning moment is when the star is placed on top. For my family, the finishing touch is placing Baby Jesus under the tree. Christmas just wouldn’t be the same without him and I expect he’ll be around for many years to come.

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