We sat in a beautifully decorated Cathedral today for First Friday Mass today and I felt a pang. The poinsettias were just so full, the lights on the trees were so twinkly, and ‘O Come All Ye Faithful’ sung in Latin gets me every stinking time.

Adeste fideles, laeti, triumphantes,
Venite, venite in Bethlehem.
Natum videte, Regem angelorum.
Venite adoremus, venite adoremus,
venite adoremus Dominum.

Yes, it’s the 9th of January but we’re still swilling straight up from the Christmas Cup.  Our lights are on, the tree still stands, and tinsel clings to our socks.  Our neighbors probably think we’re crazy and that’s pretty accurate.  There is not 1 or 2 or even 3 baby Jesus’ up in here but FOUR to keep track of.

I made a futile attempt to tidy the living room, returning stray straw to an empty manger.  It’s one thing to do it in preparation for the king but another thing entirely when he has already arrived and just won’t stay put.

“Really, Lord,” I lamented, “Mary and Joseph couldn’t keep up with ONE child Jesus.  How am I supposed to handle four?”

I found Jesus face down under the tree.

It’s a matter of course that this should happen.  We have 4 girls, 2 of which are technically toddlers.  Baby Jesus and his little manger are just their size and are right down where they can reach them.  Lucy, before she even began to plunder stockings, had found the babe, stripped him of his swaddling clothes and cradled him, patted him and hauled him around.  And so it continues.

Often though, they’ve pulled baby Jesus from his bed and, becoming distracted, lay him down and forget he was ever  with them.  Or they move him aside to make room in the manger for other things they deem important. It would drive me to madness (okay, sometimes it DOES) if it weren’t for the fact that this is repeatedly the state of my heart.

How often do I haul Jesus out with me only to forget where I left him.  Or cram so many other things into the bed of my heart that there is, alas, no room even there for him.

There was the pang.

I love Christmas.  I love it for it’s beauty and wonder and gift.  But I’m anxious for a clean slate and for a new start.  I’m itching for the storage boxes, coveting the space taken up by the tree.  This year, though, I’m excited for the chance to ‘live Christmas the whole year through.’ To not keep Jesus in the manger, but to tuck him into the crook of my arm and bring him where I go.  To make sure that the manger of my heart stays filled with good, clean thoughts and free of anything else that would make less room for the king of kings.  Yes, I want a new start, but glory be!  That tiny babe was all the fresh start I’ll ever need.

Venite adoremus indeed.