Disgruntled, I fumed at God, my eyes closed but not in prayer.
Welcome to Adventist Review’s Retro Christmas
In this short series over the holidays, we’ll be bringing you Christmas articles from years past. Why explore vintage Adventist Review? Because the reason for the season never changes. So sit back and join us as we revisit Christmas from the pages of Adventist Review. Perhaps what you read and hear will be nothing new, or maybe, just maybe, these thoughts on the miracle of the Savior coming to us as a baby will ignite or reignite something beautiful in your heart. From our Adventist Review Ministries family to yours, blessings for a beautiful Christmas season.—Enno Müller, news editor
She padded into our bedroom at six o’clock on a Christmas morning with the joyous innocence only a two-year-old can know. Enjoying Christmas Eve too long precludes adults from feeling that joy.
“Hi, Mommy,” she exclaimed, eyes twinkling. A smile split her face from ear to ear, and a thumb spilled from her mouth.
Her mother sighed. I buried my head farther into the pillow, knowing from long experience what words from my wife follow a cheery good morning from my daughter. “Do you want to get up with her?” she asked, without opening her eyes.
“Well, I’m tired.”
“Why should I get up?”
“I got up with her yesterday morning.”
“Good. You’re in practice. Do it again.”
“Maybe she’d like to get in bed with us,” my wife said in compromise.
“OK.” I propped myself up on one elbow, looked across the pillow my wife had put over her head, and said, “Would you like to get in bed with Mommy and Daddy?”
“I go potty,” she answered.
I got up right away.
Why me, Lord? I wondered as I slipped her out of her sleepers and positioned her clumsily on her potty chair. Disgruntled, I fumed at God, my eyes closed but not in prayer. Why should I have a wife who can’t start the day until 8:00 a.m.? Why couldn’t I get to sleep in?
But in the true spirit of Christmas, I decided to play with my daughter, let my wife stay in bed, and hope that our noisy playing would wake her and make her get out of bed too.
We went to the living room to find some of the new toys that an affluent “Santa Claus” had heaped on our little girl. The tree glistened in the morning sun reflecting through the window from the snow outside. My eyes closed instinctively to protect what was left of my Christmas generosity. “Do you remember what name we give this tree?” I asked the little one whose vocabulary was just beginning.
“Chrithmath tree,” she lisped.
“That’s right. Do you remember that it’s called a Christmas tree because we put it in our house at this time of the year, which is called Christmas?”
“Uh-huh,” she answered with her usual monotone grunt, which I’d been trying for several months to replace with a Yes.
“Honey, do you remember that Daddy wants you to say ‘Yes’ instead of ‘Uh-huh’?”
“Uh-huh,” she assented again. I groaned softly, but she wasn’t through talking. “Daddy, what Chrithmath?”
“Christmas is the day we celebrate for Jesus’ birthday. Jesus was the most important person who was ever born on earth. Do you remember Jesus? We go to His house every week, and you sing songs about Him in Sabbath school. Do you remember your birthday last summer? Remember we had a cake and candles, and all your friends came over to play on the swings and swim in the little pool? Well, Christmas is just like that day, except this is Jesus’ birthday celebration.”
That was quite a monologue, I thought. I wondered if she understood any of it. She just stared at the tree and sucked her thumb. “Would you like Daddy to read the story of when Jesus was born?” I asked.
“Uh-huh,” she assented.
I walked toward the bookcase, scratching the back of my head as if that would clean the cobwebs left over from the Christmas Eve gathering. As I thought about trying to focus my eyes on Scripture, I wondered if I could read loudly enough to wake my wife.
I pulled my daughter onto my lap, thinking what a trite Christmas picture we made — a Norman Rockwell-style painting in real life. Little girl sitting in Daddy’s lap in a big overstuffed chair next to a beautifully decorated Christmas tree with bright sun shining on the fresh-fallen snow outside the picture window.
“ ‘About this time Caesar Augustus, the Roman Emperor, decreed that a census should be taken throughout the nation.’ ” A yawn interrupted my reading from Luke 2. “ ‘While they were there, the time came for her baby to be born; and she gave birth to her first child, a son. She wrapped him in a blanket and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the village inn’ ” (verses 1, 6, 7, TLB). I continued through the story of the shepherds and put the Bible on the end table.
“And that’s the story of how Jesus came to this earth. He gave up His big mansion in heaven to be born in a barn so that mommies and daddies and little girls could live happier lives. Wasn’t that nice of Jesus?”
“Uh-huh,” she assented in that all-too-familiar manner. I groaned and got ready to ask her to say Yes rather than grunt, but she interrupted.
“Daddy?” She started a question.
“Uh-huh,” I responded.
“I love Jethuth.”
Suddenly I knew the answer to “Why me?”
This article originally appeared in Adventist Review on December 22, 1983.