Tuesday, December 7, 2010
I lost my keys for several months a few years ago. I had spent the day with my grandmother, who had just bought a furnished double-wide mobile home about an hour north of us. When I came home with the (then) four kids and all the stuff they had brought along to play with, and all the various things Nana had sent home with us, I spent a few moments putting everything away to avoid leaving the mess of junk at the front door. Somehow in the midst of all the stuff my keys disappeared. I could not find them anywhere and, of course, the expensive electronic locking/unlocking thing that comes with all keys these days was missing along with the rest of the key ring. We could not afford to replace that. Talk about frustration. I ended up using Tim’s set of keys to the minivan and finding a spare house key to make do with, giving up entirely on ever finding my keys. Then one day, literally months later, I pulled out of the closet a set of sheets that Nana had given us because they were twin bed size and she had no twin beds in her house, and low and behold there were the lost keys all folded up inside.
This morning, I woke up and sat down on the couch to snuggle with the baby for a few minutes to enjoy the beauty of the Christmas tree. I was sitting for about 30 seconds when I realized one of the ornaments was missing. The baby has been stealing ornaments, rearranging ornaments, and tasting ornaments since we put the tree up over the weekend so the fact that one was out of place should not have been even noticeable much less surprising. This was a special ornament though, purposely placed in the center of the tree, up much too high for little hands to reach. It was one of a set of three, hand-painted by my mother, ornaments from my childhood that depict the Holy Family. There on the tree was baby Jesus all wrapped in His swaddling clothes and next to Him, St. Joseph all dressed in brown with his hands folded in prayer and on the other side… just an empty branch. The Blessed Virgin Mary was missing! And on the eve of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. I searched under the tree, sure the ornament had just fallen off somehow. No Blessed Mother. I searched in the tree, peeking through the branches. No Blessed Mother. I searched around the tree and looked at every branch in case she had been relocated, though I could not, for the life of me, figure out who would have done that. No Blessed Mother. With the kids help, I searched through all our library books, through all our Christmas books, through the overflowing “Pack n’ Play” that has become our toy box, through the hall closet, and under all the couches and chairs. Still no Blessed Mother. At this point, I was bordering on frantic. How could we lose Mary? And especially this Mary, that had been a part of Christmas since as long as I could remember. I prayed, and asked the kids to pray, to St. Anthony, who is the patron saint of lost things. I was at a loss and kept picturing Mary accidentally tumbling off the tree and being picked up by the baby when no one was looking, only to be deposited in the trash can or some strange place we’d never think to look. Then, finally, my oldest daughter put her hand into the branches of the tree and pulled out Mary, unscathed and holy and peaceful as always. I don’t know how I missed her in my crazy searching but thankfully she was back and hung again lovingly on the branch next to her baby and husband. All was well again.
Since then we have lost a math book and a sippy cup full of milk, but I am trying not to let that frustrate me. As long as we know where to find Our Lady and Our Lord, we are doing just fine. Nothing else really matters in life, and the milk, at least, is sure to turn up eventually…