Sunday, December 25, 2005

Mary (and Joseph) Christmas!

Today, I did what any sane housewife and mother ought to do on Christmas Eve. I treated myself to a movie at noon. (I stopped by Barnes & Noble to buy one final gift (an "American Girl" magazine for my niece) first.) I had no trouble finding parking at the theater, unlike a normal weekend. No line to buy tickets, only one person ahead of me in the popcorn line. Perfect!

Only a few days ago, I finished reading Memoirs of a Geisha. The book was well-written and (I thought) offered insight into some unfamiliar Japanese customs. I enjoyed reading it and thought it would be a great introduction to the movie.

Alas, I spent a lot of time during the movie thinking, Hey, that's not how it was in the book! and, Well, that doesn't make any sense if you compare it to the book! And then I wondered if I should reread the book when I got home just to refresh my memory. And then I realized I might possibly be insane.

I did like the movie, though. But I liked the book better. (Isn't that always how it works?)

My husband left for church at about 4 p.m. By that time, I was deep in the midst of preparations for my Annual Christmas Eve Dinner of Nachos. I made a warm dip with melted Velveeta (fake cheese of the middle class--I haven't bought a box in, well, forever. My mother always kept in on hand when I was a kid, but now, I am a little snobbish about my cheese . . . but, my kids like that bright orange melty cheese in a can for their nachos, so I splurged and bought the giant 2-pound bar of Velveeta . . . do I sound like I'm justifying my actions? Because I feel like I am on the defense stand, on trial . . . because I might possibly be insane). . . um, where was I? Oh yes, dip with Velveeta, canned chilies and cooked sausage. I put the whole mess in my brand spanking new crock pot (only $9.99 at JC Penney's with a $10 off coupon that came in the mail). Then I made seven layer bean dip, only I couldn't find my recipe, so mine had five layers, improvised. (Beans, sour cream/mayonnaise mixed with taco seasoning, guacamole made with four avocados, sliced olives, shredded sharp cheddar cheese.) I also opened two cans of that weird melty cheese and dumped it into a small crock pot. Voila! Add root beer and you have a festive meal.

My sister and her husband, daughter and son joined us. We ate our nachos off the Christmas Tree Spode china and drank out of mismatched glasses because I didn't have the time to get out all the Christmas glasses. My daughter dined on nearly a whole can of black olives, which she called "envelopes" and then harassed me while I attempted to eat. "I want to put on my beautiful dress. Is it time to put on my beautiful dress? Let's go put on my beautiful dress."

We arrived at church pretty much on time so two of my boys could dress for the children's pageant. The older son was a king and wore a regal red robe. The younger son was a shepherd, much to his chagrin, and wore peasant clothing and a sporty blue headdress. My extremely pathologically shy 3-year old daughter saw the other kids dressing and wanted to be a horse. I deftly distracted her with empty promises and a sparkling gold garland halo for her curls and rushed her upstairs to our front row seat where my other son sprawled out, saving our place.

When the pageant began and "Joseph," "Mary," a "donkey," assorted "shepherds" and their "sheep," were sitting on the steps of the stage, Miss Very-Shy herself begged to go sit, too. I warned her she'd have to sit alone, without me and she said, "okay," and marched herself right up to the stage, as the congregation sang a Christmas carol ("O Little Town of Bethlehem," I think it was).

She went right up to her buddy, the little boy I babysit and he very dramatically stood and showed her where she could sit, about six feet away, on the end. She followed him, turned and sat demurely on the steps with her little hands tucked primly on her black-velveted lap.

Then she gave me a little wave which made me want to laugh and cry at the same time. I waved and then grinned through my tears. A two-year old wandered around the stage while the other children somewhat grimly glared at him and attempted to listen and sing. I was just glad that two-year old didn't belong to me. When the pageant ended, my daughter returned to me and broke into tears. I whispered in her ear, "What's the matter?" and she said, "I want to go sit up there!" and she pointed back to the stage.

I was dumbfounded and again, I whispered empty promises back to her.

At that point, she remembered "Baby Jesus." Unlike last year, when Baby Jesus was played by a new baby in our church, this year, the role went to a blue-eyed dolly. The second my daughter saw that dolly, she wanted it something fierce. She returned to my lap just in time to see someone carry out Baby Jesus. She wanted it.

My girl does not give up easily and sometimes, I just cave in early to save us both time and effort. While the congregation stood and sang a Christmas hymn, we slipped out through the side door and found the pageant director carrying the doll. I asked if we could borrow it for awhile and the lady said, "Yes."

While my husband preached, my daughter cradled Baby Jesus, then unwrapped his swaddling clothes, then re-wrapped him, then rocked him, then unwrapped him, and so on and so forth. She kept asking, "Can I take dolly home?" in a stage whisper. I'm afraid we are very distracting in church.

So, when we finished singing "Silent Night" while holding our lit candles (me, watching ever so vigilantly to make sure none of my kids set their hair aflame), we ran into the woman who loaned Baby Jesus to the church for the night. My shy girl, the one who will not look anyone in the eye and who certainly does not speak to anyone, said to this woman, "Can I take it home?"

And that's the story of how we brought Baby Jesus home with us. He is sleeping in heavenly peace under a Piglet blanket, right next to my little angel.


Blogger Cindy said...

Adorable! Merry Christmas! :)

2:53 AM  
Blogger Angi said...

Merry Christmas!!!!

11:24 AM  
Blogger sallyrogers said...

This may well be my favorite Christmas story. Bringing Jesus home. Merry Christmas, Mel!

5:20 AM  
Blogger Beth said...

that left me with tears in my eyes. you're such a good mom!

6:36 AM  
Blogger Diddy-Win said...

I never liked the candlelight thingy when my kids were little ...I was always worried my girls would catch their hair on fire or my pyromaniac boys would catch Sister Bugtussle on fire!
*sigh* those days are over.

11:53 AM  

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