Thursday, December 22, 2011

A Christmas Memory

In the house where I grew up the dining room, front entry way, living room and family room all flowed one into the other through a series of large open doorways.  The Christmas I was nine, I had gotten tall enough that I could run and jump just high enough to touch the top of the open door frames.  I considered this a great accomplishment and I practiced it whenever I had the opportunity.

In my family our  major celebration was on Christmas Eve.  So Christmas Eve day was filled with cooking, wrapping the last of the presents and just general chaos as everyone went about their own preparations for that night.

On this particular Christmas Eve day I was as excited for Christmas as only nine-year-olds can be.  And with that excitement came an abundance, I mean abundance, of excess energy.  So how did I expel all that pent-up enthusiasm?  I ran, leapt and jumped, touching each door frame in turn.

For an hour.

I consider myself to be in fairly good shape now, but I could no more run and leap for a straight 60 minutes to save my life.  But back then youth and excitement provided all the endurance I needed.

My running, leaping and touching took on a rhythm of its own.  Try to imagine it if you can.  Run.  Leap.  Smack!  Run.  Leap.  Smack!  Run.  Leap.  Smack!

For an hour.

I don't know how my parents kept their sanity.  I don't think I'm capable of that with my own children.  Maybe they were wearing ear plugs and I didn't know it.  Maybe they were drinking wine while they worked.  Maybe they were ready to throw me outside but held back.  Maybe they realized that I couldn't help myself.  The season had caught up with me and this was how I expressed my joy.

Something more than joy caught up with me a few hours later.  As we sat down for our traditional Christmas feast, my dad, sitting at the head of the table, asked us to bow our heads for the prayer.  He started, then stopped, because praying at large family events makes him emotional.  Just as his voice shook, I also felt something stirring within me.  A nose bleed.  I was plagued with them as a kid, and my frenetic activity all day must have gotten one started.

I shouted, "Hold it!" and ran for the bathroom.  Fortunately or unfortunately it got everyone giggling.  My older brother started cracking jokes.  My grampa wiped the tears of laughter from his eyes.  My dad no longer seemed quite so choked up.  I came back to the table and Christmas was once  more on.

Even though I no longer run, leap and smack when I'm excited, I hope I never completely lose my enthusiasm or my wonder at this season when we watch the sky for a star and renew our hope that God is born again in our midst.

God's peace be with you now and always.

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