Where is Jesus?

The last of my father-in-law’s possessions was spread across my dining room table ready to be claimed by his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren as keepsakes and reminders of him.  This was his collection of animal figurines and carvings which he collected from around the world and which were very dear to him.  Also included was a crèche complete with Mary, Joseph and a manger in which to lay baby Jesus.  Every Christmas he would display the crèche with all of his animals surrounding it.

Somewhere along the way Jesus must have gone missing, not unlike the time when Jesus was twelve and Mary and Joseph had traveled to Jerusalem for the Feast of Passover.  On the way home, you may remember, they thought he was in the company they were traveling with and it took three days to find him.

The comparison breaks down quickly, but it does come to mind that sometimes one thinks they have Jesus and they really don’t.

IMG_2652Anyway, one of our sons chose the crèche.  The figures have wonderfully expressive faces and are stamped with Italy as their country of origin.  Jesus looked a little off to me.  He wasn’t made of the same material, but it was something about his eyes that gave him away.  We turned him over and there it was.  Jesus was made in China.  I’m guessing he was purchases in a Dollar Store and added to the scene like an understudy in a play.

This troubled me, but we figured lots of people display manger scenes without Jesus in the manger all through the Christmas season.  Then on Christmas morning He miraculously appears.  This hatched a plan to look on E-Bay to find a baby Jesus that was fitting to sit with his Italian-made parents.

IMG_2654I wasn’t comfortable throwing made-in-China baby Jesus away.  It seemed wrong somehow.  I figured we should put him some place where I could remember where he was; so just in case I didn’t find a suitable replacement, the manger would not sit empty on Christmas.  I put him in the china closet.  You know, China/china – I should remember that.

Then it occurred to me.  Bob and I are going to Italy in the spring to celebrate our fortieth wedding anniversary.  I can look for Jesus there.  That would be awesome.

So, this year if you come to my house on Christmas, please do not look too closely at Jesus in the manger.  We have hope that next year he will look a lot better.

I would encourage you to look for Jesus where he may be found this Christmas.  He is there at the mere mention of his name.  He is no longer a baby in a manger.  He is the Prince of Peace and our Savior.  Merry Christmas!

Luke 2:11-12:  “Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.  This will be a sign to you:  You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

 

 

Four for Four, Plus One More

Our family has been a buzz of activity over the last few weeks.  It all began earlier this year when our youngest son met the girl of his dreams.  Now, there was a lot of pressure on him because our older three kids have amazing spouses who love them and fit in with our family like they were hand-picked by God, which we believe they were.  So, when Scott met Julie, there was a lot at stake.  It didn’t take long before we realized that she is wonderful.   Over the Thanksgiving holiday he proposed and she said yes!  So it looks like we are going to be four for four in the kid-in-law department.

But that wasn’t the only thing afoot.  Our son, Joe, and his wife were expecting their first child.  He came a week late but arrived on December 6, healthy and beautiful.  They are living with us temporarily, so our lives have taken a bit of a return to earlier times.  We live in the same house we lived in when Joe was born.  So just when my baby who is 27 is getting ready to get married, we are transforming the house for our grandson.

Before Thanksgiving my house was overrun with my father-in-law’s furniture, which we pulled out of storage so Bob could refinish it.  You may remember that he was blind so there were quite a few spills and rings from glasses marring its finish.  So arranged among my regular living and dining room furniture, we had a large credenza with bookshelf, two dressers and two nightstands.  There was also a pile of artwork resting in a corner of the room.  We suddenly had too much stuff!

I was desperate to clear out the excess because not only were we getting ready for our grandbaby, we also were going to need a spot to put our Christmas tree.  I was determined it would not go on top of one of my father-in-law’s dressers, but that was looking like a viable possibility.

A few days before Thanksgiving we were able to consign and/or sell his remaining furniture and transform the living room and dining room back into something we could live with, even if that does include a sofa in the dining room.  Clutter stifles me, distracts me and gives me an excuse to be unproductive.   When the excess was removed, happiness and contentment returned.

Christmas tree and baby paraphernalia are all set up.  Notice no bedroom furniture in the living room.  Victory!

Christmas tree and baby paraphernalia are all set up. Notice no bedroom furniture in the living room. Victory!

Now all I have to do is finish my Christmas shopping, do some baking, clean the house (again), wrap the rest of the presents and finish the book I’m writing.  Last week I decided I would not panic until Tuesday (today).  So far I’m not panicking.  I guess I’m procrastinating doing that, too.

Christmas Wrap-Up

I hope you all enjoyed the holiday season. Our Christmas was wonderful. Bob’s dad, my parents and my brother were with us on Christmas Day, as were all our kids and grandkids except for our son and daughter-in-law, who are still in Paris. They did visit us by video chat. We passed them around the room on my iPad for everyone to share a few minutes together.

There were a few unusual or noteworthy things this Christmas Season.

1. We decorated the inside of the house early this year. It was complete before we left for Europe back on November 15. I did not want to return home on December 1, jetlagged and worn out, with that task ahead of me.
2. Our first weekend home, we decorated the outside of the house. We scaled back – no lights on the roof so we (meaning Bob) didn’t have to do any climbing. The mandatory outdoor decoration is my Christmas moose. He is made from grapevines and stands proudly in our front yard with his head swaying back and forth as he greets passersby. This year, however, the lights on his antlers didn’t work. In the dark it looked like a headless moose – not too Christmassy. We never got around to fixing him, but as we walked into the house the evening of Christmas Eve, we noticed he was fully lit from antlers to tail. That’s right – it was a Christ-moose miracle.

Christmas Moose

Christmas Moose

3. I saw Santa Claus shopping at Costco on December 23. Further proof that Costco has the best stuff.
4. On that same Costco trip, I was nearly run over by a man texting while driving a motorized shopping cart. Makes you wonder how he ended up needing that cart to begin with.
5. While waiting in line at the grocery store I heard the elderly woman behind me quietly singing Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. It struck me as funny that out of so many beautiful Christmas carols, this was the one she was singing. She must be a grandmother.
6. I did a photo Christmas card, which I have never done before. One of the photos was us posing with a monkey in Gibraltar. I mainly did this for my relatives who live out-of-state and figured it would be the only card they received with a picture of a live ape surrounded by family. This checks another thing off my bucket list.

Pictured left to right - Aubyron, Joe, Monkey, Me, Bob

Pictured left to right – Aubyron, Joe, Monkey, Me, Bob

7. I successfully made two new recipes for our Christmas meal. This is very unlike me on both counts – trying something new and having everyone like it.
8. There is one day out of the year that I can count on Bob being totally exhausted. That day is Christmas Eve. He hits the wall around 10:00 every Christmas Eve night without fail. I typically have crazy energy on Christmas Eve and am constantly amazed that he doesn’t. I’ll be getting stockings out to stuff and putting gifts under the tree and he will be down for the count. This year, however, Bob stayed up all the way until 10:30. That may have something to do with #9.
9. The stockings were stuffed and 95 percent of the gifts were wrapped by December 23.
10. Dena’s oldest three children painted a statue of whales for Bob’s dad. Dad is almost 91 and legally blind.  He has a collection of carved animals, which he has acquired from all over the world. He was holding his gift and trying to figure out what it was. The kids told him it was two whales. He strained his eyes and asked, “Are they doing something obscene?” Another classic Grandpa quote.

On that note, I wish you a Happy New Year!