The Irish in America

An Orange for Baby Jesus


Maureen Teahan Murray helped us kick off the holiday season by sharing her Thanksgiving memories a couple of weeks ago, and she is back with a special story, just in time for the first Sunday of Advent…enjoy!

An Orange for Baby Jesus

One of the pre-Christmas joys for my sister and me was watching the manger being set up in our church as we sat patiently in a pew. First the frame was assembled, then a covering of evergreen with lots of holly carefully arranged. Next, a nice bed of straw was placed inside. Then it was ready for the Holy Family—St. Joseph, the older man, Mary, young and lovely in blue and, protected between them, baby Jesus in his swaddling clothes. Behind Him gathered the animals, so close that they seemed to breathe warmth on His tiny body. And of course, the wise men bringing their rare gifts for the new-born babe. Above a lovely artificial star was set, blinking in and out.

When the work was finished, we drew closer for a better look. Since we lived so close to the church, we visited often. A child gave baby Jesus a wonderful gift—an orange from Jaffa, Palestine (the state that years later would become the modern nation of Israel). My sister, Kitty, resisted the tempting orange as long as a three-year old could. But one day she snatched it from Jesus’s outstretched hand. It was only later that the inevitable guilt set in.

When Kitty was able to return to our home town of Milltown after living in the United States for many years, she climbed the spiral stone steps to the belfry. Her thoughts, no doubt, went back to childhood. She took a photo of the baby Jesus, looking just as He did years ago. That picture was cherished all her life.

My sister departed this earth some time ago now, but we are certain that when she entered the Kingdom, Jesus met her with outstretched arms—and He didn’t mention the orange.

Maureen, 1953

Maureen, 1953

About the author…

Maureen Angela Teahan was born in September 1928, Milltown, County Kerry, Ireland. She was the firstborn of a large family. The household included a maternal grandfather and an older cousin, all living in a small thatched home. Maureen was educated at Presentation School and received her Leaving Certification from Presentation Secondary School, Milltown, 1944. She emigrated from Ireland in 1947 and lived in Lawrence, Mass.  Maureen worked at the Wood Worsted Mills for two years until they closed and moved their operations south. After that she was employed as a nanny for a year, also in Lawrence. Then she moved to Boston and worked for the First National Stores (FINAST) in the meat department. During that time she met her future husband and left FINAST when she married Patrick Murray in 1952. Maureen raised three children and was active with volunteer work, the church and community. Her hobbies included reading, sewing, cooking and gardening for as long as she was able.


Author: Aine

I live in Saint Paul, Minnesota. My heritage pretty much covers the map of Ireland: great-great-grandparents from Cork (Crowley, Foley, Regan), a great-great-grandmother from Clare (Quinn), a great-great-grandfather from Fermanagh (McMahon) and his wife's parents from Mayo (McAndrew), a great-grandmother from Connemara (Hannon) married to my great-grandfather from Laois (McCormack), great-grandparents from Sligo (Flannery), and a great-grandmother from Kildare (Hill). All of those people ended up in Minnesota, where my four grandparents were born. Three and four generations after my people left Ireland for America, I retain all Irish heritage. So much for the melting pot...

8 thoughts on “An Orange for Baby Jesus

  1. Pingback: Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade Welcomes Two Girls From Milltown | The Irish in America

  2. Pingback: Meet Maureen (Part III) | The Irish in America

  3. Pingback: Meet Maureen (Part I) | The Irish in America

  4. Pingback: Day Eleven of Irish American Favorites: Maureen Teahan Murray | The Irish in America

  5. I laughed till I cried about this. I love your stories Aunt Maureen. Please keep this up !

  6. Pingback: Maureen’s Memories: The Infant’s Class Uprising | The Irish in America

  7. Pingback: Maureen’s Memories: Fair Day in Milltown « The Irish in America

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