Some of you may be thinking, “What in the world is a house for Toddler Jesus?” Let me give you some background information before I jump into telling you how my two school age granddaughters and I recently made a little cardboard and popsicle stick house. We are going to use it at Christmastime alongside my traditional wooden Nativity Manger Scene.
Part of the fun of Thanksgiving at my house is for the family to put up and decorate a tall, full-branched artificial Christmas tree. To go along with the tree, we get out the manger scene with its wooden stable plus the papier mâché figurines of Mary, Joseph, Baby Jesus, Shepherds and sheep, Wise Men and camels, and heavenly Angels. All will be a part of my family’s Christmas Eve reenactment of the Christmas story from the Holy Bible as Scriptures are read and the miniatures are moved along the carpet at the appropriate times.
For a number of years I have had a desire to have a Bethlehem house in addition to the Bethlehem stable to portray accurately the Wise Men’s coming to worship Jesus. That part of the Christmas story is in the second chapter of Matthew.
It tells us that Wise Men from the east came to Jerusalem and started asking people they met if they knew where the recently born King of the Jews was. King Herod was troubled and asked his chief priests and scribes where this King was to be born. They told him Bethlehem.
So he summoned the Wise Men to a private meeting with him and told them to go to Bethlehem to look for the Young Child. And he said when they found him to come back and tell him so he could go worship Jesus too. However, he was lying. The Wise Men did find Mary, Joseph, and Jesus living in a house in Bethlehem and it was there that they presented their gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
English: On coming to the house, they saw the Child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped Him. Matthew 2:11 NIV (The Holy Bible New International Version)
Français: Ils entrèrent dans la maison et virent l’enfant avec sa mère, Marie. Ils se mirent à genoux pour adorer l’enfant. Matthieu 2:11 BFC (La Sainte Bible Nouvelle Français Courant)
Español: Y al entrar en la casa, vieron al niño con su madre María y postrándose, lo adoraron. Mateo 2:11 RVR 1960 (La Santa Biblia Reina Valera Revisión de 1960)
Deutsch: Sie gingen in das Haus und fanden das Kind mit seiner Mutter Maria. Da warfen sie sich vor ihm zu Boden und huldigen ihm. Matthäus 2,11 HFA (Die Bibel, Hoffnung Für Alle)
These Wise Men, or in some traditions they are called Magi, were warned in a dream from God not to go back to Herod. So they left to go to their own country by a different route. Joseph was also warned in a divine dream to flee to Egypt with his family. And that’s what he did.
King Herod was enraged when he learned that he had been tricked by the Magi. So he ordered all the children two years old and younger to be killed. Why two years and younger? It was because the Wise Men had told him that two years prior was the time of the appearance of the star they had followed.
So, when my two grandgirls were at my house for a few “Nonny Days” during the summer, one of our projects was to make a Bethlehem house for the Toddler Jesus. I cut off one side of a cardboard box. It had formerly been filled with game cotton balls used for pretend snowball fights before we repurposed it! It proved to be an excellent choice with its see-through plastic sides and top.
The girls glued popsicle sticks to the top as a roof and painted the cardboard inside and out with brown poster paint. One of them made a table with a prescription medicine bottle as its base and popsicle sticks as its flat surface. I cut out a piece of Styrofoam as a pallet for sleeping and leaned it against the back wall.
The Bethlehem House Project:
A House for Toddler Jesus
As that day proved to be the last time they would be visiting before school started, I had to work on the costumes by myself. The ten-year-old granddaughter had shown me the fashionable clothes she had made for her Barbie dolls without sewing a stitch! I was quite impressed that she used double knit polyester that didn’t ravel when cut and bits of polyester or yarn as ties to fit the clothes to the Barbie bodies. I took her ideas but used pajama type flannel in solid colors: blue for Mary, ivory for Toddler Jesus, ivory for Joseph’s tunic, sage green for his shawl and ivory as a coverlet on the pallet for sleeping. Surprisingly, all I had to do to make the infant figurine look like a toddler was to dress it in a tunic and stand it upright. Perfect!
However, I have been thinking some extra time will be needed to allow the Holy Family to be costumed in the attire I made when we do our Christmas Eve reenactment. I may look online to see if I can buy an extra Mary, Joseph, and Jesus so they can be already dressed for their part in the Bethlehem House when the Wise Men come.
The Bethlehem House Project might be a fun activity you’ll want to do in preparation for Christmastime in your home this year.
A Fun and Instructive Activity for Children and Adults:
Bethlehem House Project
By Connie Carlisle Polley, 2021
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