Friday, December 24, 2004

Christmas Eve

Tonight, we had our first annual Nachos for Christmas Eve Dinner. It was a stroke of pure genius, I think. My husband is not here for Christmas Eve dinner and since I grew up and don't have to shuttle between my divorced parents' households anymore, I celebrate Christmas with my loud little family on Christmas Day. Christmas Eve is the time we go to church, to pause for a split second to remember Jesus' birthday. And there are candles and actual fire and the potential for singed hair and burnt fingers, so it's also a thrill. And who has time for a fancy dinner? Thus, Nachos for Christmas Eve dinner.

The boys were in our church's first pageant tonight. TwinBoyA was a King, dressed in shimmmery silver and a black turban and brand new black Nikes. TwinBoyB was the head shepherd and he twirled his staff as he sat on the steps, completely ignoring the restless toddlers and preschoolers dressed as sheep--even though DaycareKid, dressed somehow appropriately as a black sheep, was careening around the stage, while the pacifier-sucking Baby Jesus slept in the arms of his teenage "Mother" Mary.

YoungestBoy was a shepherd, too. When we arrived, the racks of costumes sat waiting for the children to find their own costumes. Each costume hung on a hanger with the child's name attached. Except YoungestBoy said, "Mine is just in a bag on the hanger." I questioned him and he explained that he thought the leader told him to put it all in the bag. So, his costume was bunched into a wrinkled ball in a plastic bag, hung on his hanger. He looked cute anyway.

Babygirl watched all this from close proximity to me. She hovers around me as if she is a planet, held into place by some maternal gravity. At one point, she did ask to wear a sheep's costume, so I pulled the fleece over her head and gave her a sheep hat, but very soon, she was done.

I sat in the front, off-stage, and at the appropriate time, sent two angels out to stand by "Mary" and "Joseph." Then I tiptoed into the sanctuary to watch the rest of the pageant. There were no speaking parts, only narration and Christmas carols. When the children finished, my husband preached a short sermon and he did a fine job. I hardly ever hear his sermons and I always remember again what a good speaker he is.

Then the end of the sermon came and it was time to light candles and sing "Silent Night." YoungestBoy was next to me and during the second verse of "Silent Night" I looked down to see him wiggling the little round cardboard paper thingy up his candle, nearly into the flame. I snatched that paper out of his hand and said, "NO!" I thought for sure that it was actually on fire and that I'd have to use my superpowers to quench the flames, but it was not. But it was close! I sternly told him to leave the paper-thingy alone--it's meant to catch dripping wax.

And so we left with our eyebrows intact, no burns, no scorched hair.

The sight of the baby actress (who played Baby Jesus) in her father's arms next to me, illuminated by candlelight brought tears to my eyes. Since I've become a mother, Christmas and the story of the Baby with His destiny fills my heart with such emotion. I think of the gift of His birth and of the gift of His death, and it is almost too much for me . . . because His mother had to hold him so gently, so loosely, and it must have broken her heart. And all that reminds me that life is a tentative gift, that babies are held in our arms for such a brief, sweet while and then the current of life sweeps them away.

The twins were in bed when I returned downstairs at 8:40 p.m. after putting Babygirl to bed. They are trying valiantly to fall asleep, even though normally they are still chatting at 10:30 p.m. YoungestBoy watched a Christmas special until 9:30 p.m. and now that they are all in bed, I'll begin the wrapping festivities. My husband is resting--he has to go back and do another Christmas Eve service, starting at 11 p.m. Some years I actually manage to attend that service--I always really enjoy the stillness, the late hour, the candlelight--but tonight I will be home, preparing for tomorrow morning.

And another year will draw to a close and I will wonder how that's possible when it seems that we just woke up in 2004.

Merry Christmas to all!


Blogger Smoov said...

I cried at church tonight as well, during the candlelight singing of Silent Night. I tend to get teary eyed at church when I go and it kind of freaks me out.

Merry Christmas!


10:18 PM  
Blogger cathy6150 said...

I was so happy to see that Iam not the only one who cries in church,although I have never noticed anyone else crying like a baby,as I would appear if i let it all out. My heart just gets so full of the love from god that it overwhelms me to.. tears.
thank you for sharing your heart and feeling It helps me see I am not alone.

12:32 AM  
Blogger Wash Lady said...

Ugh! My previous post was deleted by some helpful hands of a 2.5 year old.

I just wanted to say that I've been reading for over a year but never posted and this post prompted me to say 'Thank You'.

Thank you for putting words to the feelings that I struggle with, thank you for inspiring me, for encouraging me to blog myself.

I'm happy to call you my friend Mel :)

2:42 AM  

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