Christmas morning I woke in the half-light, unable to sleep. I was eager for their doors to open and the yelling to start. I couldn’t wait to hear their reactions, share in their excitement. I lay there awhile, reliving all the magical Christmas mornings of my childhood
It wasn’t long before I heard it – the crack of a latch and a squeal.
“Grammie! You shouldn’t have!” My oldest found the new bathrobe and slippers that Grammie Jan sends each year, hanging outside his door.
A second latch sounded and little brother joined in the revelry. Giggles. whispers. I smiled to myself, listening to their surprise. The continued to giggle, whispering.
Their delight delighted me. My cherubs. My sweet boys.
They’re so excited about Santa! I thought to myself, fondly. So happy for their new robes and slippers!
And then the whispering got louder..
“Smell my armpit!”
“NO! YOU smell MY armpit!”
Sweet. Precious. Cherubs.
Let’s go back a bit to Christmas Eve…I had been looking forward to the evening worship service all week. An opportunity to bask in the holy, sharing the world’s joy over a Priceless Gift. Singing the old sweet carols…
Explaining to the boys that we would be going to church, my 4 year old looked up at me and asked:“Mom, are we going to share fire, tonight?”
Share fire. Share fire. Ummmm...it took me a second before I realized what his little brain was remembering…the candle-lighting, sharing a flame from person to person, hand to hand, in a dark room until the rafters glowed with our collective light. The light of the world…it’s a beautiful ceremony and to a little boy, it’s not the light he remembers. It’s fire. Worshiping with fire – that’s what he remembers. Figures! (What is it with guys and fire, anyway? To get most guys to cook, fire must be involved. Maybe it’s the danger-factor. We could all be burned alive in an instant. Cool!)
During the service, he listened for a bit, and then asked if he could sing, too.
“Of course!” I was delighted he would want to join in the chorus of voices raised in worship. He must love these songs, too!
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Fall on your knees! Oh, hear the angel voices!
My sweet cherub joined in at the top of his lungs:
The Itsy Bitsy Spider went up the water spout!
Down came the rain and washed the spider out!
During “Away In a Manager” he had his own personal burping contest. When we stood for “Go Tell It On the Mountain,” he began a few sets of jumping jacks.
As we drove home in the dark, admiring all of the Christmas lights and pondering where Santa might be at that moment, my 4 year old darling, once again, set the mood by loudly declaring:
“I gotta go pee! I’m gonna wet my pants!”
Trying to recapture some semblance of holiness in the evening, I read to them from the Nativity story, as they placed the final pieces into their own, personal, Nativity.
Unfortunately for poor Joseph, Mary, and their friends, and right in the middle of my story, Bethlehem was struck with a violent earthquake. The boys roared with glee as they shook the frame and all the figures fell from their places onto the floor. “Earthquake! Earthquake!”
Exhausted, I fell into the couch at 8:30, the boys finally tucked snugly in their beds. My oldest, in awe of the imminent arrival of Santa Claus, obediently had his eyes shut tight, willing sleep to come quickly, so the presents would, too. The little one held out, continuing his “Itsy Bitsy Spider” solo in the dark of this bedroom.
Gabe and I sat down to watch Donna Reed fall for Jmmy Stewart in truly one of the best movies of all time, and I am reminded that life isn’t always what we expect; it doesn’t always turn out the way we plan. It’s not always what you pictured for yourself – we’re not really in charge of the outcome, but, when we take a step back and look really closely…it truly is a wonderful life.
Boys, belches and all.