We almost had a pseudo-crisis situation in my house on Saturday morning when I was decorating the living room for Christmas.
My husband had carried up our big nativity box from the storage room in the basement and it was my job to arrange the nativity on the desk, in a place of honor.
I carefully started pulling out the ceramic figurines, all wrapped in tissue and crumpled newspaper. The barn, about 2 feet high, took up a good portion of the desk. Though years old and not quite as firm as it once was, the barn still looks pretty good. Next I unwrapped the donkey, the sheep and a shepherd carrying a lamb on his shoulders. Then came the angel, Mary and Joseph, and the three wisemen.
Each year, as I put up the nativity scene, I’m drawn to the wisemen. I have a special place in my heart for them because, after years of use, they are a bit imperfect. One of my wisemen has a broken leg. Another has a missing hand. The third wiseman is missing his gift for the baby Jesus.
They are a motley crew of wisemen but I identify with them. How many years have I come to Christmas with the best intentions, only to find myself limping my way through the season and having forgotten a gift for baby Jesus?
With my wisemen in place, I reach into the box for the star of the night, baby Jesus. I push aside the crumpled papers. I tilt the box to one side and then to the other. But baby Jesus is nowhere to be found.
I rummage through the box again, taking out every piece of wrapping, but still no baby Jesus.
I don’t necessarily know a lot about life, but I do know that without baby Jesus there is no nativity story.
I begin to panic. Should I just take down the nativity set? Should I draw a baby Jesus on a piece of paper and tape the drawing in the manger? I decided neither option was a good one for me.
So I begin a more earnest search. I’m pretty sure baby Jesus has not left the house, unless one of my granddaughters carried him off sometime last year. After all I did find him in a toy box last January.
So I go from room to room, looking in desk drawers and cupboards, toy boxes and jewelry boxes, in the junk drawer in the kitchen. I wonder how long I would continue my search before I give up.
But fortunately, about 30 minutes later, I find baby Jesus, hidden behind some folders in the top drawer of the living room desk. Little baby Jesus never looked so good to me. I carefully place Him right where he belongs in the center of the manger scene, in the center of the Christmas story.
Later that evening, I sit in the living room, drinking a cup of coffee and admiring the completed manger scene. I can feel myself growing quieter and more restful ... maybe more at peace. After all, I’ve found baby Jesus and Christmas is complete.
BCR Senior Staff Writer Donna Barker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.