Christmas was missing. Gone. I had looked everywhere, and he was nowhere to be found.
“Christmas” is my daughter’s favorite toy – a stuffed dog we bought her on Christmas Eve, just a few days before she was born.
No toy of hers compared to Christmas – he was the one she asked for first thing in the morning and the one she put to bed at night. He was her Woody and Buzz Lightyear combined – a dog whose value only increased with each slobbery kiss and overly-intense hug. And though I hate to admit it, as she grew more and more attached to him, in a way, I did too.
And now he was gone.
“Christmas is hungry,” my daughter said, four days after he disappeared.
“I know, I know,” I told her, desperately wanting to feed that dog a bowl of imaginary food to keep him from starving to death.
I had spent hours combing every inch of the house for any sign of him. I looked in every cabinet and drawer, behind the toilets, in the garage, and the freezer. I got on my hands and knees and tried to imagine where a two-year-old might misplace a stuffed animal. I called and emailed people who had been around during the time of his disappearance, asking if anyone knew his whereabouts. All of it was to no avail.
Christmas was gone, and I couldn’t stop thinking about it.
From an objective, outside perspective, I understand that my reaction was over-the-top. From the perspective of a dad – well, it made sense to me. Another thing that started making sense was Jesus’ parable about the lady who goes nuts searching her house for one lost coin (Luke 15:8-10).
I had always glossed over that parable, but now I was living it – except instead of losing money, I had lost a stuffed dog named Christmas. And God – well, He lost His children – all of them. And like any good dad, He went on a wild search for them, a search that led Him to a manger and eventually, to a cross.
“Christmas!” my daughter said with joy. Like a magician, she had pulled him out from under a covered chair that was too close to the floor for me to consider as a possible hideout for her dog.
I felt something between joy and extreme relief. I even called friends and told them the good news. I know, it’s kind of cookoo. But I think God understood where I was coming from, and thanks to a little stuffed dog, I think I had a little better understanding of where He’s coming from as well. And I suppose that was the whole point of Christmas.