I remember as a wee boy being very excited about Christmas and all the fun things that the season brought to school: Making advent calendars, Christmas cards, singing instead of sums.
One thing that takes me right back there is hearing the carol " little donkey".
Unlike so many of the wonderful carols we sing each year It has nothing really profound to say about the miracle of the advent, indeed it might owe a little more to the imagination of the writer than the bible account.
It seems a little odd to be singing a song of encouragement to a donkey when in the Christmas story we are considering the mind-boggling truth of God coming to be "born as man to die".
However I think a lot of parents can relate to the words we sing to the donkey:
"Got to keep on plodding onwards",
"Little donkey had a heavy day",
"Little donkey got a heavy load".
Sometimes we feel at Christmas we are just "plodding onwards" from "heavy day" to "heavy day" with a "heavy load" as we struggle to deliver on the expectations of our children (or maybe just the expectations we put on ourselves for them).
The little children singing are encouraging the little donkey (who doesn't know the importance of who it is carrying) to carry Mary onwards so that the world will receive the blessing that will follow.
Just remember, when you are "plodding onwards" to the checkout or adding the final flourish to the Christmas decorations or trying to figure out how long to cook a turkey. The"heavy load"of the preparations for Christmas is so that we can share the blessing of Christ's birth with our children, our colleagues, our neighbours and our friends.
Bethlehem is in sight: )