Silent Night
written by Sugarberry

Baby Nectar stood back and surveyed the manger scene. With the help of her friends and family, she had arranged to hold a living nativity in the downtown park. Baby Nectar sighed with satisfaction; everything was ready for tonight when they'd take their placed for this Christmas Eve reenactment of the birth of the Christ Child.

Only one problem remained to be hurdled-- they had no baby for the manger. None of the mothers in Ponyland would let their newborns outside in the cold, wintry air for the length of time needed.

Since last year's Christmas memory of the birth of Jesus was still very strongly etched in Baby Nectar's mind, she wanted this portrayal to be perfect. "Help us find a baby, dear Jesus," she whispered softly.

So just this morning Baby Nectar had sent word to Megan that she desperately needed a Christ Child figurine, and could Megan bring one to Ponyland. Now all Baby Nectar and the others could do was wait. They were scheduled to begin at 9:00 PM; the hours seemed to be skimming by.

When evening came with no sign of Megan, Star Glow felt so concerned for Baby Nectar that she offered to fly over the rainbow to see what was keeping Megan. In only a brief time, she returned with bad news. "The other end of the rainbow is engulfed in a major winter storm," Star Glow sadly informed Baby Nectar. "There's no way Megan is going to get here now!"

Baby Nectar hung her head. There would be no Baby Jesus in the manger. Yet the scene must go on. She bravely smiled at Star Glow and thanked her for her efforts.

It was now time to dress for the parts they were playing. Baby Nectar was Mary, clothed in a blue mantle; the Playtime Baby Brothers were also helping out; Paws was cast as Joseph. Everyone was given a part: shepherds, angels, and kings.

Baby Stripe's mom dug out an old human-like doll and wrapped it in "swaddling clothes" for the ponies to place in the manger. It wasn't nearly as nice as the porcelain figure Baby Nectar had planned on from Megan, but it would do.

Tiny white flakes were beginning to fall silently as the ponies left their homes for the park. Spotlights accented the manger and stable setting that they had previously prepared.

Moving to the manger, Baby Nectar was surprised to see that it was already occupied with a delicate figure of the Christ Child. "Hey, everybody," she called out joyously. "Megan got through after all!"

Ponies and pals gathered around the manger and "Oohed" and "Aahed" at the beauty and life-likeness of the sleeping infant. Then they dispersed to take up their appropriate spots in and around the stable.

The snow was falling harder now, and gusts of wind occasionally blew the cold crystals into the stable and onto the figure in the manger. Baby Nectar, as Mary, was puzzled that any flakes that landed on the baby's face melted immediately, while those landing anywhere else were accumulating in little puffy piles. She glanced as Baby Paws to see if he noticed anything odd, but he was standing silently with eyes closed.

The gentle baa's and moo's from Baby Wooly and Baby Leafy gave a realistic atmosphere to the stable. Baby Nectar became lost in the mystery of God's gift to mankind-- His only Son born in a humble stable.

Getting hit with a stronger blast of wind that showered her with snowflakes, Baby Nectar renewed her gaze on the figure in the manger. She noticed that the wind had blown the white blanket covering the baby away from the baby's body. Porcelain or not, Baby Nectar was convinced that the Christ Child would feel the cold; so she quietly moved closer and tucked the blankets more securely around the sleeping form.

"This is so strange!" she thought. When her paw softly touched the cheek of the baby, it felt warm. She slowly brushed across its cheek again, and drew her paw quickly away. She hadn't touched cold porcelain; it was living flesh. But how could that be?

By this time, Baby Paws had come to join her at the manger. Baby Nectar looked at Paws, and saw in his eyes that he, too, was aware of something out of the ordinary. Their gaze dropped back to the infant before them; and at that moment, the sleeping infant opened His eyes.

Baby Nectar had seen eyes like that only once before, last Christmas Eve. She and her pals had sheltered a traveling human couple in the stable behind Paradise Estate, and the woman had given birth to a child. And that child had been the Christ. In His eyes was the depth of love of God for His creatures. Baby Nectar's heart almost burst within her as the baby suddenly smiled at her.

Baby Nectar and Baby Paws dropped to their knees. There was magic in the air. The snow stopped falling and the clouds cleared the sky to allow a single radiant star to illuminate this gift of God lying in the manger. All the ponies and pals were filled with a deep peace as they gathered close around the manger. Heaven had reached down and blessed them in this very special way.

Instinctively, the multitude around the manger joined hooves and paws and began singing Silent Night. As they reached the line, "Oh holy Infant so tender and mild," the Child raised His hand in blessing, and disappeared from their sight. A crumpled white blanket was all that physically remained of this holy encounter. Baby Nectar cradled the paw that had touched the Infant and felt within herself a deep and abiding love.

"Sleep in heavenly peace, Baby Jesus," she whispered. "Sleep in heavenly peace."

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