As Advent progresses children are exposed to a barrage of TV ads that tantalize their appetite for toys. It may happen that kids will want Mom or Dad to buy that precious toy or video game right away. They may want it "now" rather than wait for it to appear under the Christmas tree. As an antidote to the "gimme" (give it to me, now culture), we Pauline Sisters often host a Birthday Party for Baby Jesus in our Pauline Book & Media Centers throughout the USA and English-speaking Canada. Here in Alexandria, Virginia our "party" space is limited, but we make room for over 200 children from babies to about 10 years old. Our chapel is transformed into a big Nativity scene. The center piece is a manger with a large statue of Baby Jesus. Families can take pictures of their children and sometimes of themselves dressed in costumes as shepherds, or Mary And Joseph. At times the family's infant child poses as Baby Jesus. Coming for the party and having the picture-taking has become a family tradition in many Virginia households.
One of the Sisters and lady volunteers hold a story hour every hour and a half. The story telling is interactive, so the little ones stay involved. This year we had a young woman guitarist who led us all in signing Christmas carols. Then a birthday cake complete with candles was brought in and all sang Happy Birthday to Jesus. then cake, apple juice and crackers were served. The adults enjoyed coffee from our neighboring coffee shop, Misha's.
The party was held on Friday and Saturday. Thanks to the many volunteers who helped with costume fitting, traffic handling, refreshments, story telling, and so many other details.
My prayer if that the children who came will remember the main theme of the party: that Christmas is Jesus' birthday.
Later this week we will celebrate the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. She is the Patroness of all the Americas. There is mote to come....