Before she left, she moved Joseph and Mary into the stable, with the noble donkey grazing on the hearth nearby. The shepherds she placed on a table not far away, where the heralding angel's message could reach them. Finally, she set the angel directly beneath the star hanging above the mantel. Leaving the lamp shining in the window, she started out for church just as rain began to fall in earnest.
The little stone church was packed, buzzing with excitement as families gathered and friends greeted one another as if they hadn’t been together in months, rather than days. Her cherubs, with their shining clean faces and carefully brushed hair, seemed suitably impressed with the importance of their roles in the service, even a little subdued. Emily could only hope that attitude lasted through the hour they spent in full view of the congregation.
But as the music began, and she led them to their places, all her anxiety melted away. It was a sacred night and even if the children were restless or sang a little off key, nothing could cast a shadow over the beauty of this, her favorite night of the year.