The Day I Saved Baby Jesus (A True Story)

The Day I Saved Baby Jesus (A True Story) December 20, 2022

Baby Jesus
The now lit baby Jesus, Christmas morning, December 25, 2022.

It’s the Christmas season, the time of the year when we engage in cherished family traditions. Baking holiday cookies. Hanging stockings by the fireplace. Unwinding with a glass of spiced eggnog. Well, in the Rapsas family, we have another unique tradition that started many years ago. Lighting up the plastic baby Jesus.

I am a runner and four or five days a week, in the dim early hours of morning, I jog around town. My path seldom varies. I stay along the roads that hug the nearby river and pass the same Victorian homes and local landmarks. There’s something comforting about the familiarity of the route and the physical activity helps calm my mind for the day ahead.

One morning, I noticed something odd during my run. It was early-December, a trash collection day, and one house had lined the curb with overstuffed black garbage bags and other assorted items for pick-up. As I passed the house, I saw that mixed in with the trash were several old-fashioned Christmas lawn ornaments. You know, the cheap plastic kind that light up when you plug them in.

There were a couple of four-foot-high plastic candles, cracked and peeling. There was a faded giant candy cane. I noticed two tall wise men, there was no telling what had happened to the third. And then, something more curious caught my eye. Between two overflowing trash bags, sat a light-up baby Jesus in a manger.

This literally stopped me in my tracks. I walked up to do a closer inspection. While the other lawn ornaments were chipped and worn, baby Jesus looked to be in pretty good shape. I assumed that he no longer lit up, his bulb permanently dimmed. I started on my way again, but a few feet later I came to an abrupt realization: 


I circled back and scooped up plastic baby Jesus. I 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 if any townspeople were watching me through their windows, it may have looked odd. I can recall once seeing a man in a toga walking through my neighborhood with a giant wooden cross over his shoulder. Similarly, I was now jogging down the street cradling a plastic baby Jesus.

I was thinking my wife might not like the idea of me bringing home a trash-picked Christmas lawn ornament. But when I brought baby Jesus indoors, she was delighted and asked me to plug in the ornament to see if it worked. To our surprise, baby Jesus lit up as if he were brand new.

It’s now a part of our family tradition. Each year we put up a Christmas tree and decorate it. And while for some families, the crowning moment is when the star is placed on top of the tree—for our family, the finishing touch is placing Baby Jesus under the tree. On Christmas morning, we plug him in and he lights up our little world.

May you and your family have a wonderful Christmas!

This story was previously published about 5 years ago and has been rewritten for 2022.

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