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Friday, December 21, 2007

Three Christmas Stories* (Part Two)

Away in a Manger

Over the years, it has somehow happened that the task of setting up our crèche has fallen to me. It’s a medium size nativity set with a little stable, complete with a hayloft. The pieces we have are: Mary, Joseph, a manger with Baby Jesus (two pieces), an Angel, the Three Wise Men, two pipers, a shepherd, two sheep, a cow, and a donkey. So maybe it’s a little bigger than “medium”. Either way, every year I set up the crèche and then place Baby Jesus behind it, to be set out on Christmas Eve.

Another semi-tradition at our house is a Christmas party that usually takes place at the beginning of December. After years of constantly having to explain to guests where Baby Jesus was, we finally started to set him out on the day of the party. But one year, when I reached behind the crèche, I didn’t fell anything. I checked again. Nothing. I lifted up the stable. Nothing. I dug threw the pine needles strewn across the table. Still nothing. Somehow, between setting up the crèche and the day of the party, I had lost Baby Jesus.

Our crèche, while not an antique, is still very old, and it’s hard to find pieces for it, especially just one. We found the whole set at a store, but as we were only missing one piece (albeit the most important one!), we decided to just keep looking and hope Baby Jesus showed up. Yet as Christmas drew closer and closer, it began to seem less and less likely that we would have a complete nativity.

Finally, it was Christmas Eve, and in our outdoor nativity, Baby Jesus was safe in his manger. Indoors, however, it was a different story. There was even talk of just taking down the crèche. After all, Jesus was the whole point of the thing.

Well, church was over, and we were about to get ready for bed (the crèche was still set up), when the doorbell rang. We looked out the window, and our neighbors from a block over were standing outside, holding a box. Opening the door, my dad invited them in, but they said they couldn’t stay. They just wanted to give us something. My dad took the box, and we all gathered around, eager to see what was inside. He opened it, and there, nestled in a layer of tissue paper, was Baby Jesus, one that matched our set. Somehow, our neighbors had learned that we had lost the piece, and they had managed to find the exact same one.

It seems no matter what else happens in our house during the Holiday season, Jesus always manages to arrive right on time.

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