It was totally my fault. I remembered on Friday, on Saturday, and at 3:30 AM on Monday morning. The preschool had sent out a reminder about Monday’s show and tell and the directions were simple. “Please have your child bring something that shows the baby Jesus.”
It was totally my fault. I had a good plan. Josiah could bring the baby Jesus from thePlayMobile Nativity set and Elizabeth could bring the baby Jesus from the Advent calendar we were not using nearly regularly enough. But, the morning got away from us and we left in a hurry and while I felt like we were forgetting something, I didn’t know what so we piled in the van and shivered on our way through the 18 degree morning.
Against all odds we were on time for preschool and it was not until I was ready to leave my little ones to their busy morning that I overheard a comment about the show and tell.
Turning to the nearest of the many compassionate teachers, I said, “I completely forgot the show and tell…”
She tried to comfort me, really she did. But, I knew my kids should have this item and it was my job to be sure that they, at 4 and 5, had what they needed for school.
Eager to save the day, I said, “I will run to the grocery store next door and buy a Christmas card with Jesus on it and run it right back for them to share with their class. ”
She tried to talk me out of it. I should have listened. She told me that they had old Christmas cards but I said no and ran out the door. How hard could this be, to find a Christmas card with Jesus on it on December 18?
I had a date to meet friends for coffee… a special morning and one which I looked forward to very much. So, I had to hurry to bring Jesus to preschool so I could savor those moments of conversation, caffeine and comfort in the midst of this busy, chilly season.
Into the Jewel I ran… surely a grocery store set in the midst of conservative community would have a Christmas card with a picture of the Holy family on front. Naively, on my way in, I thought maybe I would splurge on a cute ornament that would fit the occasion… not only saving the day but providing my kids with a story they could share for many years to come.
I quickly found the “Holiday” aisle and began to sort through all the varied paraphernalia. I found Santa in spades and riding in sports cars (no kidding) and sparkly letters that spelled out JOY. I found houses decorated, and much about Rudolf and starry skies. There were Christmas cards for photos and money and a good belly laugh… but NOTHING, ABSOLUTELY NOTHING, with any hint of Jesus to be found.
I was perplexed. How could this be? Surely this was an overlook on the part of this one store. So, already late for coffee, I ran to another store… to a strip mall… to another grocery store… to a hardware store… and I swear I am telling the truth when I say there was not one representation of Jesus to be found! There was no ornament or decoration or gift card or image of any kind that showed the true reason for this most important of days… He was absent completely from all of it. By the time I pulled out of the last store, I was late and frustrated and ANGRY. It is not that I have never lived “in the world”. I have and I remember it well. But, even when I lived in that place, before I knew who Jesus really was, He was there. I remember him there, even in the days before I knew Him at all.
The unfolding of this morning made me profoundly sad. I sat in the van, unsure what to do, and prayed.
“Jesus, I am so sorry. I am sorry that we have left you out, that you are lost in the midst of it all. I am sorry that the world that NEEDS you right now cannot find you in the middle of the time when we celebrate your very coming to be with us, when we celebrate the beginning of your wondrous plan. And whatever my part, I am sorry for that…for not demanding better… for not expecting better from even my own self… for not remembering today. I am sorry… and I remember now. I see you now and I will not leave you out.”
In that moment, I pulled close to the one who loves me best. In my sadness, my eyes were opened and was reminded how important that central focus really is. I had not really forgotten. I just think I had not really remembered. That happens sometimes, to all of us. But I wish that wasn’t true.
One more store. I talked myself into it the whole drive there. It was an old fashioned “five and dime” in the center of town. In I walked and 5 minutes later, out I came with two different Jesus ornaments in my possession to hand to my little ones, waiting at school. I hoped it wasn’t too late. That wish hit me deeply… I hope it isn’t too late. Suddenly it was not about the ornaments or about preschool or about the coffee with friends that had started without me. It was about a bigger picture. With Jesus in my hand, I rang the preschool doorbell and hoped it was not too late… for my kids… for my family… for this town and this country and this world to know that the One I held tightly in my grip is more important that the rest of it, by far.
It was totally my fault… but in the end, I found the reason for it all and a lesson that I hold inside of me still. We cannot leave Him out… not from the stores, not from this season, not from our world. We celebrate many things at this time of year, and that is good and right. But to celebrate CHRISTMAS without Christ? This we cannot do. It is easy to be distracted by all that is going on around us. But none of it is the reason for this holiday. We are celebrating His birth, His coming, His sacrificial love for all His people.
At this time in history, more than any other, we need the hope and peace He came to bring. We cannot leave Him out.
Blessings on your day.