My misguided Christmas mission, or how I met the Queen of Nativities

"My misguided Christmas mission, or how I met the Queen of Nativities" Continued...

So I wiped the chagrin off my face and began to skulk about, trying to determine where Her Royal Highness was headed in her proceedings. Obviously she was trying to decide which set to buy, and I wanted to grab my favorite and run for the nearest register in the event she ended up bestowing her disinclination upon it.

In not too many moments, HRH noticed me on the prowl and I rushed to explain the noble purpose behind my seemingly rude behavior. She countered with a noble purpose of her own: She was buying a nativity, possibly even two, to donate to her church. Her present indecision stemmed from her desire to please the Right Reverend X of said church with the appropriateness of the set to the decor in the house of worship where he (rather than the Almighty, I smirked to myself) presided.

It was altogether too much for me: that a preacher might quibble over how well a carefully chosen manger scene donated by a prosperous parishioner would blend into God's house. That indeed said parishioner would look a new mother in the eye when informed of her righteous plans and say, "Well, I'm going to take the one you like and another one, and I can call you if we decide not to keep your favorite."

But such is life on one of the biggest sale days of the year. As I reflect on these events, I am now reminded that the Christ child Himself snuggled into a most inappropriate bassinet because some innkeeper couldn't be troubled to deal with a pregnant woman's urgency right when the need for housing for Caesar's Giant Umpteenth Annual Come-to-Your-Census Pilgrimage was reaching its peak. But in my moment of discomfort I could only think mine was the kind of situation where I would least expect to see injustice served.

At any rate, she did take my name and number. In fact, she even called that afternoon-to let me know she was still debating the appropriate choice. I sized up her ego and audacity and the stress it was causing me and decided to forget the whole shooting match. It was obvious that something about my plan had not met with divine approval, as it certainly had shown no evidence of receiving God's blessing. Christmas would come again next year and we would figure out something. Surely there was a better way.

Or maybe not, I found myself thinking the next day as I hung up the phone after hearing from the Queen that she was returning my favorite to the store. We had made plans to meet at the exchange desk so that I would be able to buy it before anyone else had a chance to. I wondered briefly why I couldn't just meet her in the parking lot and give her the money, but was too exhausted with the silliness of the entire process to care. What mattered was that my daughter would learn, after all, that Christmas was not all about shopping-as long as I never told her this story, anyway.

My enthusiasm for the project returned as my husband and I admired the figurines all evening and talked of how we could suspend the angel just so, for maximum effect, and we resolved that our daughter's second Christmas would be as perfect as we could make it.

But before I knew it, it was another day and my phone was ringing again. And the pastor whose character I have already called to question had decided he wanted back the nativity that had now been paid for by, and given a loving home with, my family. Would I be so kind, the Queen wondered aloud, as to return the desired object to the store? I thought I detected a tone of humility in her question, or so I comforted myself as I hung up the phone.

It didn't matter. If this was about fairness, as I saw it, I needed to take the thing back. She had, after all, found it first, and had, after all, only agreed to let me have it if she and the Reverend decided they didn't want it.

Still, I could not figure out what God was doing up there while all of this was going on down here. Could He not see that I meant to honor Him with this plan, and that my plan was selfless, loving, hopeful, un-worldly? Just the opposite of what these other people were up to, they and their stingy little church full of mean-spirited folks with deep pockets?


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