We hope you are having a wonderful Christmas eve. As you settle in tonight, finished with all the hustle and bustle, I hope you will have a chance to think about what Christmas is all about – and the role the animals played. Tomorrow is a huge birthday party for Jesus Christ. I think my favorite Christmas memory is Linus on a œCharlie Brown Christmas  reading the passages from the book of Luke that describe the birth of Christ. He was born in a barn! Surrounded by animals of all kinds. In fact, there were more animals there than people. The angels first announced his birth to shepherds and their flocks – again there were more animals than people. Remember Mary being carried by a donkey into Bethlehem? And later, Christ himself would ride a donkey into the city of Jerusalem. There is no doubt that the animals matter to God, and they matter greatly. One of the first tasks given to Adam and Eve was to care for the animals. The animals in that barn in Bethlehem invited Mary, Joseph and Jesus into their home on the first Christmas. Won ™t you remember the animals tonight and tomorrow in the same way? Please remember to let them share in your celebrations. Give them an extra hug or kiss, and
maybe a special treat (not too much!) Most importantly, remember to thank God for the gift of the animals as you thank Him for the gift of His son. Merry Christmas to you all. I wish you a joyous New Year.

by Bonnie Markoff, DVM, ABVP