So Easy to Lose Dear Baby Jesus at Christmas
It’s so easy to lose Baby Jesus at Christmas. I was assembling my El Salvadorian cornhusk doll nativity scene when I discovered that Baby Jesus was missing. Then I remembered. I had separated him from his family earlier in Advent and now he was lost.
The rest of the cornhusk family with their attendant wise men, angels and cattle had been employed as decorations for my table at the Advent by Candlelight event at church. Advent by Candlelight is a lovely women-only evening where individual “table hostesses” turn drab 72-inch roundtables into winter wonderlands in a darkened candlelit Fellowship Hall. The event sets an aspirational contemplative tone for the upcoming Christmas season. We church ladies look forward to this event all year.
Having traveled to Mexico, Guatemala and El Salvador in 2019, my table had a Central American flair in which the cornhusk figures had played a starring role. I had bought them at a Christian Based Community called Pueblo de Dios during a recent immersion trip to El Salvador with the United Methodist Church & Society Immigration team.
Two weeks after the Advent by Candlelight event, I gathered all my creches for my subversive creche photography project. I also borrowed from the extensive creche collection of my fellow church lady, Joyce, an expert tag sale shopper, whose skills are admired church-wide for her ability to zero in a bargain.
But Baby Jesus was missing from my cornhusk creche set. I had left him behind when decorating my Advent by Candlelight table because Baby Jesus does not belong in an Advent celebration. Advent is a time of waiting. It is the reason why many Christian families do not decorate their Christmas tree until Christmas Eve, a fact lost on me until recently. As a child, I thought my parents had no Christmas spirit! It’s the rule that there is so Baby Jesus in Advent. So, he was separated from the rest of the Holy Family.
I kept looking for Baby Jesus, frantically overturning the souvenir pile that I had stashed in my grown daughter’s room. I went to my make-shift photography studio in the basement, hoping that I had placed Baby Jesus there as part of zealous photoshoot preparation. No such luck. My organizational flair existed only in my idealized self-conception. How could I lose Baby Jesus? He is the main event of Christmas!
Then I remembered I had stuffed him in a bag while others in his cornhusk family added color and flair to my table setting at the Advent by Candlelight celebration. What if I threw the bag away? What if I threw Baby Jesus away? I tore through my plastic bag collection, causing my kitchen to look like one of those pictures of beautiful exotic shorelines spoiled by multicolored plastic bag waste.
No baby Jesus.
I ran out to search the trunk of my car where there is a cloth bag collection that I employ to slow down the accumulation of plastic bags in my kitchen (I have truly failed Marie Kondo, despite my best efforts).
And hallelujah, Baby Jesus was safe in a cloth bag guarded by one of the wise men who hadn’t made the table decoration cut. Now Baby Jesus is in his proper place, with the Holy Family.
It’s so easy to lose a child when you separate them from their family.
P.S. The latest estimate from the U.S. government is that it will take almost 2 years to find the children who were separated from their parents at our southern border and are now lost in our immigration system. Surely, Baby Jesus weeps.