1. Tell story, then read Scripture
Mary was a single mother. She had to provide for her children and at the same time she wanted to be there to take care of her kids. To accomplish both goals she decided that she would clean houses.
The two older girls, Cindy and Laura, helped as much as they could and they never complained. The youngest girl, Becky, found happiness in her doll, Charlie, who she kept wrapped in a blanket.
One day Mary went to clean a house. As they approached the house Mary saw a beautiful Christmas wreath on the front door. There were Christmas decorations everywhere, a big tree with lots of presents underneath, and star on top. Mary said, "I've got to go to work now so please don't touch anything." Becky said, "Okay mom." She climbed up in the big easy chair and sat with Charlie admiring all of the presents and ornaments. Becky would guess what was in every present and pretend that Charlie was guessing with her.
Later that day they went to another home and found the same decor. Tree, ornaments, presents, and the smell of Christmas in the air.
When they got home that night Becky suddenly realized that she was missing out on something. Becky looked up and said, "Mom, why does everyone have a tree in the house? Why are there so many presents? Is it somebody's birthday? Why don't we have a tree?"
Mary had known the questions would come. Laura and Cindy looked up from the floor where they were playing, waiting for her answer. Mary pulled Becky up in her lap. "You're a very smart girl. It is somebody's birthday, and I'll tell you all about Him. His name is Jesus, and He was born Christmas Day. Mary told the kids how it all happened.
Becky hugged Charlie close and said, "Poor baby. Was it very cold in the stable? I wouldn't want to sleep in the stable, would you? I wish I could go there and see it, though."
Down the street was a church. Each Christmas they always had a huge nativity scene. Mary took the kids for a walk and they arrived at the church. When they got there they saw the manger with straw, large ceramic figures of wise men, Mary and Joseph, and the baby Jesus. Becky didn't want to leave. Mom said, "Come on girls, it's cold out here and we must get home." Becky wanted to stay as she was mesmerized by the scene.
The next week was difficult for the family, especially for the girls. At school everything was focused on Christmas. Gifts, decorations, parties, but the girls stood as strangers on the outside looking in. Mary's sadness turned to bitterness as every carol made her hate the season more. The older girls saw what was happening with their mother and they became bitter as well. Little Becky seemed to be immune. She rocked little Charlie in her arms and told him again and again about the baby Jesus who was born in a stable. Becky begged the other girls on a daily basis to take her down the street to see the story "for true." They would take her grudgingly and drag her back home long before she was finished looking.
Christmas morning came in a flurry of snow. Laura and Cindy woke up cold. They ran into Mary's room and burrowed under the covers with her to warm up. Mary cuddled them close and kissed their foreheads. "Merry Christmas," she said. "Merry Christmas, Mama," they echoed. "I'm afraid there aren't many gifts for you girls, but go wake up Becky and we'll open them," Mary said.
The girls bounded out of the room to get little Becky. Soon they dashed back into mom's room and said, "Where is she momma? We can't find her!" They checked the house, went outside to check the yard, and then began to check around the neighbor's houses.
Mary prayed, "Dear Lord, please help me find her. I'm sorry for my selfishness. The gifts and the dinner that I prayed for are not important. Forget them and just give me back my Becky." Mary continued to pray as she searched every place a little girl could possibly be.
Then Mary noticed Charlie. He was carefully positioned in a chair facing a window. Mary's heart raced with her thoughts. Charlie was never out of Becky's sight. And where was his blanket? Becky always insisted that his blanket be wrapped tightly around him at all times. Suddenly she knew!
"Stay here!" she told the girls as she ran out the door into the dark and snowy morning. Down the street she ran, until she could see the church. Then she slowed, and tears of release ran down her face as she caught sight of her daughter. The star from hanging over the manger was shining down on Becky and the manger. Becky had climbed in and was busily covering the Baby Jesus with the ratty scrap of a blanket. As Mary got closer she could hear Becky talking.