This time I thought I’d really done it; I could not find Jesus anywhere. The wise men were in position, sheep, angel, Mary, Joseph..check, check, check..but no sign of the baby. I dug deep into the Walmart bag where the figurines were stored, looked all over the floor and searched the storage container I’d pulled down from the attic. I even pried open our puppy’s mouth looking for evidence of a potential crime.. He was nowhere.
I stared at the empty spot smack dab in the middle of this beautiful manger scene, then closed my eyes to think..think..think..
“I can’t believe that not even one of the kids is going to make it down for Christmas” my mom had whispered through tears earlier that same morning- “Oh great,” I thought as a fought off a familiar twinge remembering our conversation, “I don’t just have an empty manger to deal with, we’re going to have quite a few empty seats!”
Christmas with all its memories and expectations has a way of highlighting what’s missing in our lives. No amount of frankincense can hide an empty cradle if you know what I mean and sometimes adding more glitter, gifts and glam just accentuates the void.
So what to do?
What to do about absent grandkids, job loss, health issues or divorce? How do you create a Christmas worth celebrating if some critical component is gone- possibly forever? How do we safely navigate our way through a season laced with tradition, the whole point of which is to link to the past through song, decorations, recipes..
Do you hang your kids’ stockings if they’re not comin’ to town?
Lots of little choices need to be made that will help set the tone for your holidays. I know what my trip-wires are, so I steer clear. (No stockings this year) I have also created a cease-fire with change..I don’t fight it anymore, what’s the point? You see the truth is, no matter how hard we try to hold on to what was, nothing in this life is constant or everlasting..nothing that is, except for Jesus.
The Nativity, regardless of how elaborate we make it, is just a barn without the Christ child and Christmas nothing more than a series of parties if it’s not centered around Jesus come to earth to save us..to change us..to give us hope..to give our lives eternal context, purpose and meaning.
I opened my eyes and resolved at that very moment that I HAD to find Him again. I knew I would never have tossed him out; I just got careless, busy and distracted. Hey, the holidays are crazy, it happens.
The great news is that if Jesus is nestled safe within the manger of our hearts, it will always be fully Christmas..no matter where we are, what we have or who is missing from our table. He is the constant we crave and not one thing on earth can change that.
And oh yes..
I found Him.
He was tucked into the front pocket of my suitcase.
Don’t ask, because I have no idea…