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You Must Become As A Little Child

A beautiful Christmas story received from a friend that I wanted to share with others of my friends. This is a first-person account from a mother about her family as they ate dinner on Christmas Day in a small restaurant many miles from their home.

Nancy, the mother, relates:   "We were the only family with children in the restaurant.  I sat Erik in a high chair and noticed everyone was quietly eating and talking.  Suddenly, Erik squealed with glee and said, 'Hi there.' He pounded his fat baby hands on the high-chair tray.  His eyes were wide with excitement, and his mouth was bared in a toothless grin. He wriggled and giggled with merriment.   I looked around and saw the source of his merriment.  It was a man with a tattered rag of a coat; dirty, greasy and worn.  His pants were baggy with a zipper at half-mast, and his toes poked out of would-be shoes.  His shirt was dirty, and his hair was uncombed and unwashed.  His whiskers were too short to be called a beard, and his nose was so varicose it looked like a road map.   We were too far from him to smell, but I was sure he smelled.

His hands waved and flapped on loose wrists.  'Hi there, baby; hi there, big boy. I see ya, buster,' the man said to Erik.  

My husband and I exchanged looks, as if to say, 'What do we do?'  Erik continued to laugh and answer, 'Hi, hi there.'  

Everyone in the restaurant noticed and looked at us and then at the man.  The old geezer was creating a nuisance with my beautiful baby. 

"Our meal came and the man began shouting from across the room, 'Do ya know patty cake?  Do you know peek-a-boo?   Hey, look, he knows peek-a-boo.'

Nobody thought the old man was cute.   He was obviously drunk.  My husband  and I were embarrassed.   We ate in silence; all except for Erik, who was running through his repertoire for the admiring skid-row bum, who, in turn, reciprocated with his cute comments.

"We finally got through the meal and headed for the door.  My husband went to pay the check and told me to meet him in the parking lot.  The old man sat poised between me and the door. 

"Lord, just let me out of here before he speaks to me or Erik," I prayed.  As I drew closer to the man, I turned my back trying to side-step him and avoid any air he might be breathing. As I did, Erik leaned over my arm, reaching with both arms in a baby's
pick-me-up position.  Before I could stop him, Erik had propelled himself from my arms to the man's.

"Suddenly a very old smelly man and a very young baby consummated their love relationship.  Erik, in an act of total trust, love, and submission, laid his tiny head upon the man's ragged shoulder.  The man's eyes closed, and I saw tears hover beneath his lashes.  His aged hands full of grime, pain and hard labor -  gently, so gently cradled my baby's bottom and stroked his back.  No two beings have ever loved so deeply for so short a time.  I stood awestruck.

"The old man rocked and cradled Erik in his arms for a moment, and then his eyes opened and set squarely on mine.  He said in a firm commanding voice, 'You take care of this baby.'   Somehow, I managed, 'I will,' from a throat that contained a stone.  He pried Erik from his chest unwillingly, longingly, as though he were in pain.  I received my baby, and the man said,"God bless you, ma'am.  You've given me my Christmas gift."  I said nothing more than a muttered thanks.  With Erik in my arms, I ran for the car.  My husband was wondering why I was crying and holding Erik so tightly, and why I was saying, 'My God, my God, forgive me.'

"I had just witnessed Christ's love shown through the innocence of a tiny child who saw no sin, who made no judgment; a child who saw a soul, and a mother who saw a suit of clothes.  I was a Christian who was blind, holding a child who was not.  I felt it was God asking --'Are you willing to share your son for a moment?',  when He shared His for all eternity.  The ragged old man, unwittingly, had reminded me, 'To enter the Kingdom of God, we must become as little children.'" 

Christmas Love

Each December, I vowed to make Christmas a calm and peaceful experience. I had cut back on nonessential obligations -- extensive card writing, endless baking, decorating, and even overspending. Yet still, I found myself exhausted, unable to appreciate the precious family moments, and of course, the true meaning of Christmas.

My son, Nicholas, was in kindergarten that year. It was an exciting season for a six year old. For weeks, he'd been memorizing songs for his school's "Winter Pageant." I didn't have the heart to tell him I'd be working the night of the production.

Unwilling to miss his shining moment, I spoke with his teacher. She assured me there'd be a dress rehearsal the morning of the presentation. All parents unable to attend that evening were welcome to come then. Fortunately, Nicholas seemed happy with the compromise.

So, the morning of the dress rehearsal, I filed in 10 minutes early, found a spot on the cafeteria floor and sat down. Around the room, I saw several other parents quietly scampering to their seats. As I waited, the students were led into the room.

Each class, accompanied by their teacher, sat cross-legged on the floor.

Then, each group, one by one, rose to perform their song. Because the public school system had long stopped referring to the holiday as "Christmas", I didn't expect anything other than fun, commercial entertainment – songs of reindeer, Santa Claus, snowflakes and good cheer.

So, when my son's class rose to sing, "Christmas Love", I was slightly taken aback by its bold title.  Nicholas was aglow, as were all of his classmates, adorned in fuzzy mittens, red sweaters, and bright snowcaps upon their heads.  Those in the front row – center stage - held up large letters, one by one, to spell out the title of the song.

As the class would sing, "C is for Christmas", a child would hold up the letter C. Then, "H is for Happy", and on and on, until each child holding up his portion had presented the complete message, "Christmas Love".  The performance was going smoothly, until suddenly, we noticed her --a small, quiet, girl in the front row holding the letter "M" upside down totally unaware her letter "M" appeared as a "W".

The audience of 1st through 6th graders snickered at this little one's mistake. But she had no idea they were laughing at her, so she stood tall, proudly holding her "W".  Although many teachers tried to shush the children, the laughter continued until the last letter was raised, and we all saw it together.

A hush came over the audience and eyes began to widen. In that instant, we understood -- the reason we were there, why we celebrated the holiday in the first place, why even in
  the chaos, there was a purpose for our festivities.  For when the last letter was held high, the message read loud and clear: CHRIST WAS LOVE.

 And, I believe, He still is.



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