So, I confess. I lost Baby Jesus. But it wasn’t my fault, exactly.
See, my daughter, Grace, (she’s four) has this obsession with babies. She thinks that one day I’ll be a baby again and she’ll be the mom. Meanwhile, she has a dizzying array of dollies. This morning she tucked one into bed with me, instructing me to make sure the baby stayed under the covers.
Last Christmas, Grace kidnapped Baby Jesus from the stable, leaving a bereft Mary and a bewildered Joseph keeping vigil over no one. The angel appeared not to notice and the shepherd just gazed skyward. Baby Jesus wasn’t harmed, just relocated to Grace’s bedroom where she kept watch over Him. I noted that Baby Jesus had been stolen from his earthly parents and intended to right that wrong just as soon as I finished the laundry and wrapped the gifts and ate all the Christmas cookies. In other words, later. Moving Baby Jesus to His rightful spot didn’t seem that important at the time.
Then, Christmas came and went. It was time to put away Christmas decorations but Baby Jesus had disappeared. I picked up the forlorn manger as I tidied up her room (how does it turn into such chaos?) but Baby Jesus was gone. (The manger spent all year on my dresser as a reminder of my failure in Search and Rescue.) I was so sure He’d appear, pop out to startle me just like the kids do when they play hide-and-seek. I’d jump and say, “Oh, that’s where you are, Baby Jesus! Good hiding space!”
I just knew He would show up again. Perhaps He lingered under the television set or maybe He mingled with the random plastic people in the toy box. Could He be in the sock drawer or stuck behind the dresser? I don’t know because He never showed up. Baby Jesus vaporized. He was here just a minute ago (okay, a year ago) and now, no Baby Jesus.
We can’t have Christmas without Baby Jesus. He is the Reason (as they say) for the Season, after all. He is the one we gather about, the centerpiece of the holy family, the heartbeat of the holiday.
And so, since I can’t find Baby Jesus–He must be in that mysterious space with the missing cell phone, that red GameBoy and jangling set of car-keys I lost on the Fourth of July–I am bidding on Baby Jesus on eBay.
Because Mary needs her baby and not just any baby will do.