Children and animals alike held court in the altar area of the sanctuary. There was a donkey, several goats, a sheep, somebody's pet chickens (in a cage), two dogs, and a puppy. One of the goats was wearing an elf hat, and one of the dogs was wearing a shepherd costume. Not exactly historically accurate, but full of good cheer.The children and the animals stayed up front throughout the entire church service. Every now and then a toddler angel might take off wandering around, only to be shepherded back into position by an older angel or beaming parent. There was the rather stinky load dropped by everyone's favorite donkey and you could tell the exact moment the smell wafted up to the choir, and the goat that nearly drenched a little girl when he relieved his bladder. Mary had to keep shooing the animals away from 4-month-old baby Jesus. The animals, enthralled with the baby, kept their backs to the congregation which gave us all a great view of a row of goat butts.
Not exactly a Norman Rockwell scene, and yet it was absolutely beautiful. It was just what I needed.