MISSING FROM LOCAL MANGER: Infant. Last seen wrapped in swaddling clothes and described by Ricky Bobby in the film “Talladega Nights” as an “8-pound, 6-ounce, newborn Baby Jesus, don't even know a word yet, just a little infant, so cuddly, but still omnipotent.”
Yes, someone stole Baby Jesus.
The theft – or savior-napping – occurred right there on Main Street in front of the First Baptist Church, where many of the who’s who of the community gather to worship, sing and pray and take particular pride in their nativity scene, which without Baby Jesus is just a bunch of figures in a ramshackle yet well-lit building with hay on the floor.
“At approximately 2 p.m., Scott Hagaman, senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Marion, reported that a fiberglass statue of the Christ Child was stolen from a nativity scene outside of the church,” read the Dec. 13 newspaper account. “The statue was reportedly last seen on Monday evening.”
As of this writing, the case is still open and the frantic search for Baby Jesus continues.
As I have said in past columns, people will steal anything. In 2014, I wrote that in one month “in addition to the theft of an ocean of pills, a mountain of guns and enough scrap metal to build an aircraft carrier, my newspaper reported on the theft of these items: a boat battery, fire extinguishers, three packs of socks, a case of Bud Light, a welding helmet, a wagon wheel light fixture, a watermelon, a box of freeze pops, tattoo needles, body wash, face cream, dog treats, a Dutch oven, a bra and scuba equipment.”
In the subsequent years, the situation has not improved and has now culminated in the theft of Baby Jesus.
Online outrage was swift.
“It all goes back to the word Respect,” said one Facebook commenter who was not Aretha Franklin, “… it's not a game and you may think you'll get away with it but you will eventually answer for your actions.”
Another commenter wrote, “I hope the Holy Ghost keeps them awake till they return it.”
I am not what one might call a strict Christmas traditionalist. The snowy miniature village on my mantle includes, along with the usual holiday scenes, three dinosaurs, a giant carp, the Terminator and a replica of Elmo Langley’s No. 64 stock car from the late 1960s. But I do believe the theft of Baby Jesus is a high crime or misdemeanor akin to Russian collusion.
It’s just not right.
But in the spirit of the holiday season, I am willing to forgive and forget and, as a representative of an aggrieved community, offer the following message to the perpetrator or perpetrators:
Please bring Baby Jesus back and we promise not to hunt you down and exact Old Testament vengeance for your heinous holiday crime.
Perhaps you thought it was funny. It’s not. Maybe you believe you were making some sort of political statement. You didn’t. Could it be that you were so hammered that you woke up Saturday morning with Baby Jesus sitting on your sofa and no recollection as to how it got there? Hey, we’ve all been there, but it doesn’t make it right.
You can drop off Baby Jesus at any area fire department, no questions asked. (Actually, there might be a few questions, but play your cards right and you probably won’t be charged.)
Or, better yet, come in the still of night under the cover of darkness (ignore the street lights) and gently place Baby Jesus back where he belongs.
The next morning, someone will see the child is back in his rightful place and exclaim, “Tis a Christmas miracle! Our 8-pound, 6-ounce, newborn Baby Jesus, don't even know a word yet, just a little infant, so cuddly, but still omnipotent, has returned.”
That’s just what you should do – if you want to avoid a vicious smiting.
Scott Hollifield is editor/GM of The McDowell News in Marion, NC and a humor columnist. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.