Throughout Advent, I labored under the naive assumption that the girls would play with the toy and then I would put it up with the other Christmas decorations. I would tell the girls to collect the pieces every night, but of course, things went missing. And things got added. I posted the following on Facebook one evening:
We can't find the donkey, and I'm betting the lion knows why.
And then baby Jesus went missing. It was almost Christmas and we had a nativity set with no Christ Child.
"Well as long as he shows back up in time for Easter, you're fine," my ever so witty father in law remarked.
Christmas came and went, and the Messiah had yet to reappear. I put the nativity in the toy box with the other Little People because, well, what's a Christmas decoration without the key element? I cleaned the play room corner to corner, cleaned the living room, cleaned the girls' rooms, and we never found Baby Jesus. Today, on my way home from work, I thought to myself how it was strange it had never turned up.
I got home and Tim and I decided it was time to move Mary and Anna into the same room again, so Lily could get out of the pack and play in our room. (Six months rooming with an infant? Oh yeah, I was ready.) We moved everything out of the rooms. I swept under radiators and moved furniture, and found an empty container to throw all the little toys into. When it was done, I had a box full of toys. I had looked at each one.
"Tim, I never found the baby Jesus," I said. "We have now officially exhausted all possibilities. I thought for sure we'd find him in Anna's room."
"Some will say 'he is here,' or 'he is there,' but do not believe them," Tim said, butchering the Bible passage. "When he comes, the whole world will know and there will be no question." I smirked and continued helping dismantle the crib to move it into the nursery.
We put the rooms back together, moved the toys back in, and called Mary and Anna to see our handiwork. Mary immediately ran to the container of toys.
"Baby Jesus!" she screamed happily. "I found Baby Jesus."
And there he was, sitting on top of the container that I knew for a fact contained no effigy of Our Lord and Savior. Tim gave me a look that said "I am sufficiently freaked out by this but don't want to admit it." Mary and Anna happily incorporated him into their dollhouse play. I'm pretty sure he's rooming in the second floor of the Grand Dollhouse with a camel, the forgiven "bad king" and a Loving Family mommy three times the size of the other toys.
It's a step up from a manger anyway. And just in time for Easter.