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As young parents with two little girls, we were still alternating visits between our parents’ homes each Christmas; while sometimes having Christmas morning in our own home.

I desired to have some kind of “tradition” that we could have for Christmas morning that would never change no matter our location.

Rachel had received a child friendly nativity at her birth, so using this, I incorporated a sweet custom I had learned – to leave the manger empty until Christmas morning. It was small and could be tucked in a suitcase to be completed wherever we celebrated each year.

If I wanted to build a sense of anticipation…mission accomplished.

They about drove me crazy as they got older trying to figure out where I had hidden the baby. One year, I hid him so well, I was afraid I wouldn’t find him before they woke at the crack of dawn.

Another year, the absence was just too much. One morning in mid-December, I found the Mama Bear (as in Berenstain) figure from a Happy Meal in the manger.

She lay, as if in state, with her arms folded in front of her blue polka dot dress; smiling kindly up into the faces of the holy family.

I laughed, but it made me think how we can get tired of waiting for Christ and decide to just fill in that place where He should be with something….anything… anyone…we can find.

While He always arrives perfectly on time, we can grow restless waiting…waiting for Him to change things, waiting for Him to heal, waiting for Him to provide what we think we need, waiting for Him to calm the storm, waiting for Him to make things right..and so we take matters in our hands. And our results are, quite frankly, as ridiculous as a Mama Bear in a manger.

Even when we cannot sense His presence; He IS…..Immanuel…God with us <3

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