Every parent of little ones knows the charm of the Church Christmas pageant. With video camera and SLR in hand, eager parents stake out seats close to the front. It really does not matter what part their child has in the annual thespian performance. In their minds their offspring is the star.
Parents take turns popping up and capturing their legacy leaving an Oscar-deserving or Grammy-deserving presentation that left everyone speechless. Or at least the average person could relish the raw talent that was on display. These images captured on digital cameras would be fodder for the grandparent machines or distant aunts and uncles.
Yet, there are additional roles filled by those who will still the show just because they are amazingly cute. Their personalities and soft pet-table demeanor give them the advantage to steal the show every time that they are folded into the Christmas extravaganza. These supporting cast members are the livestock. Yes, they are real live animals that make the Christmas story have a reach out and pet me warmth to it.
On my way out of the church from our morning men’s study, I saw the temporary corral in the courtyard. Inside there were creatures stirring and moving about their grassy turf. How can you not smile when you see these animals on display?
The donkey was the biggest of the four-legged stars. He was being protective of the other critters in his enclosure. With one wary eye on me, he walked a sentry line making sure that all of the resting animals were under his watchful eye.
Donkeys are legendary as protectors. They and their half offspring, the mule, have long been added to herds of grazing cattle and horses to ward off coyotes, wolves, bear and other nuisance predators. This totally cute brute was living up to his reputation as the protector of the beasts.
In the center of the corral were the most adorable young goats. Their small horns had pierced the tops of their heads and were minuscule compared to their heads. Yet, their faces were the perfection of young, new and full of life.
Each of these barnyard animals was docile. They were calm and enjoying a good lounge on the lawn. When the program kicks off, they will be hopefully just as serene when they walk into a building full of music, thousands of humans and followed closely by the pooper scoopers.
photo credit: brucefong cellphone photography