We had our ward Christmas party on Friday night. The Relief Society was in charge of putting it together and I had the responsibility of bringing a doll for Baby Jesus, overseeing the photo booth, and helping make some salt dough for nativities we were making.
Well the day of the party I decided the photo booth definitely needed props. Originally it was just going to be pictures in front of a Christmas backdrop, but how fun is that? So I spent most of the day trying to put together cute props on sticks. With the help of my lovely three children this simple task only took about 3 hours. And I only burned myself twice with the hot glue gun. And I only swore at my printer for not communicating properly with my computer once. After all was said and done I was pretty please with my cute props, all hot glued on sticks because ya know that's the cool thing these days, right?
Then I emailed the play dough lady and asked if she needed me to make any more dough. She replied quickly that yes, indeed she did need about 4 more batches. So, again with the assistance of my lovely little helpers, cooking up some salt dough is just no problem. What could possibly go wrong with a 5, 4, and almost 2 year old and 4 cups of flour and water? Just use your imagination, and you will get a good picture of what my kitchen looked like by the end of mixing all that together. And of course they had to play with it to make sure it was good. And don't forget the paper scraps, glue mess, and cotton balls that were every where from the photo booth mess, that I didn't have time to clean up before starting the play dough.
And then I loaded it all into the car. The props. The costumes for the Nativity. The play dough. The kids. And then we left. Never once did it enter my mind that I was supposed to bring the doll to be Baby Jesus, like we had decided at the meeting a week ago.
We arrived at the party, and the person who was supposed to do the photo booth ended up not making it. So my props sat unused under the table.
And more people brought play dough than originally anticipated. So my play dough sat unused in a plastic bag on a chair.
And then it was time to get the kids ready for the Nativity. We quickly assigned parts and helped the children into their costumes. As I was helping Mary and Joseph into their costumes, I looked around for a doll. And then it dawned on me. I forgot baby Jesus!
I had spent so much time and energy on minor things that really ended up being of no importance, that I forgot the one most important thing. How can you have a nativity at a church without a baby Jesus? (Fortunately it all worked out. A new mom was willing to let us use her sweet new baby... plus there was a doll from the nursery, so yeah don't worry I didn't ruin the party.)
The metaphor is not lost on me. It is so easy to get caught up in all these things that really don't matter much in the grand scheme of things. Not just at Christmas time, but always. We find time to do whatever nonsensical thing that seems vitally important at the time (PHOTO BOOTH PROPS!), but do we take time to say our prayers? Or call our grandma? Or help our neighbor?
I realize I had plenty of excuses to forget the doll. And I'm not really beating myself up over it or anything. In fact my mother-in-law pointed out the symbolism to me, as I was explaining my frustration. And the more I thought about it, the more I realized I needed to write this little story down. I always strive to put Christ first in my life, but obviously I sometimes fall short. This story serves as a good reminder that those things that seem important at the time will often end up under the table, forgotten. But when we remember to do the truly important things, lives change. Differences are made that though they seem small and intangible, add up to great things.