Bo'Bossu is a clever woodworker. In the boatyard where he works, his handiwork is the most sought-after. His is the hand that crafts the most delicate pieces for the ships, and he is the one who shapes and fashions the figureheads for the ships prows.
The other lads that work in the boatyard respect him. Amongst the lads in town, however, Bo'Bossu is mocked and humiliated, for he is a hunchback, slow and shuffling and not at all straight as the other boys are straight. Great sport it is for them to throw things at him and watch him run on his warped legs.
Bo'Bossu braves the jeers and thrown stones because of his great love of our Lady. He loves to spend time in the chapel and pour out the sorrows of his heart to her. As Christmas time draws near and the chapel is decorated in preparation of the great night, Bo'Bossu notices that the manger that will hold the Infant Child is a poor bit of workmanship. It is unworthy to hold the God of Gods in its frame. Bo'Bossu resolves then to fashion a new manger for the Child, a lovely thing in the shape of a boat with angel figureheads at each prow.
He snatches all the hours he can over this work, and though his days at the boatyard are long this job he has set for himself is a labour of love and he rests at it. He smoothes the wood, and carves it as perfectly as he can, and as the days draw near to Christmas and the village lads' torments become harder and crueller to bear, he makes a bargain with Our Lady: if he finishes the manger in time for Christmas, will she please make him tall and straight as the other boys?
A week before Christmas a new and urgent job is brought to the boatyard, and all the lads are made to work even longer hours in order to complete this task before the deadline. Bo'Bossu has no more time to work on his manger, and time becomes another relentless enemy. The night before Christmas he seizes the last scraps of daylight he can to feverishly work on his manger, but the daylight is against him and night falls before he can complete his task. In despair he sits in the darkness crying out his apology to our Lady.
In that bleakest hour a lad comes to him, a lad unknown but who also worked in his father's carpenter shop. This lad tells Bo'Bossu to rest, and he will complete the manger. Bo'Bossu is so exhausted that he throws himself down and does indeed fall asleep, and when he wakes the manger is complete and the lad is polishing it to a shine.
The two of them take the manger to the chapel before the Mass is begun, and as Bo'Bossu lays the figure of the Christ Child in the manger he recognizes him. Surely, surely the Christ Child and the mysterious Carpenter Lad are the same...
Every time I read this story I cry like an idiot, but it is such a beautiful story and written so well that you feel the tension as Christmas Eve approaches and Bo'Bossu's manger is still incomplete. You feel the amaze he feels when he recognizes the Babe and the Carpenter Lad.
Merry Christmas, my dear friends, and a very Happy, Happy New Year!!! God bless you all.