Christmas Cheer?

How does a young Christian couple starting a family face Christmas?  What might happen if they decide not to celebrate Christmas?  Here’s a possible scenario:

            The amber lights of the city brightened the inside of the car as we pulled off the Interstate.  The low clouds glowed with their reflection.  It looked like it might snow.

“Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” came on the radio for what felt like the fortieth time since we started our trip home from Indiana this afternoon.  I groaned and snapped off the radio.

            “I got this Christmas music thing figured out, Trudy.”  I took a breath and tried to sound lighthearted.  “There are only twelve Christmas carols in the whole world, see, but there are three hundred fourteen versions of each one.  Now, the radio stations only play the same two versions over and over and over again.  The one from 1943 and the one from 1961.  But the good news is that in January they’ll go back to their usual playlist of twenty songs.”

            No response.

            “Oh, come on, Trudy.  I’m just trying to lighten things up a little bit.  You’ve been like this for the past hour.  We’ll be home in five minutes.  Cut me some slack here.”

            Still no response.  It looked like I wouldn’t be running my fingers through her lovely, long red hair this night.

Trudy sat bold upright with her hands crossed in her lap and her nose in the air.  Her maroon overcoat covered up the curves that drove me wild from the day we met.  You couldn’t see that she was just starting to show.

Naturally, Trudy was the center of attention at the family reunion this weekend.  They all kept asking, “Is it a boy or girl?  How soon will you find out?”  Nine tenths of the presents for us were maternity clothes and baby things.  It was all good stuff.

            I shrugged my shoulders as the fourth stoplight in a row slowed our progress.  We’d been over the events of the day three times this evening, and I still didn’t get it.  I didn’t know why Trudy was so sore now.  We’d talked this thing out ahead of time and we both knew her mother would be upset..

See, with Trudy’s mom it’s always “Yes, Mrs. B. this,” and “Yes, Mrs. B. that.”  “Oh, yes, Mrs. B., I couldn’t agree more.”  I’d never call her Mom.  I don’t think she’d let me anyway.  Even though Trudy and I’ve been married nearly two years, I feel like I still haven’t earned family status.

            So there we were at one o’clock, chowing down on the roast duck Cousin Burley shot earlier this fall.  Everybody was talking about buying presents on sale and how cute Trudy’s niece was in the church program that morning.  It was what you’d expect the conversation to be about.  But when I spoke up, the whole dinner table went quiet. 

All I said was we were thinking things over and decided not to do Christmas with the Little Bambino.  I said we don’t want him to get greedy and think the world owes him everything.

Well, you’d think I’d announced we’d become Democrats or something.  Mrs. B. lit into me like you wouldn’t believe.  “You can’t do that, Jerry,” she scolded.  “Think of the reason for the season.  Besides, Christmas is for children.”  On and on.  Blah, blah, blah.

But this was one time I wasn’t going to say “Yes, Mrs. B.”  She set such a fire under me it was all I could do to keep from telling her to kiss my—

            “Jerry, please be careful with that big package from Aunt Joan when you take things out of the trunk.”

            I gasped and swerved the car with a jolt in mock amazement.  “The lady can speak!” I shouted.

            Trudy sighed.  She still sat motionless with those sparkling green eyes burning holes in the windshield, but she didn’t look as rigid as we turned left onto Sunny Brook Drive.

            I could guess the script for the rest of tonight.  We’d pull in the Driveway and Trudy would be first out of the car.  She’d unlock the door and hurry inside, leaving me to bring in what seemed like seventeen suitcases and forty-nine packages.  She’d trot down the hall and slam the bedroom door.  Meanwhile, it would be my duty to put the packages all neat and orderly under the unlit tree.

Then I’d settle down and turn on the news on channel eleven.  Dick Bartlett the weather guy would say, “Better Bundle up because it’s going all the way down to ten above outside tonight.”  I knew I’d have to run the space heater because, as for inside, it would be ten below in bed next to Trudy.

            “Well, here we are, my sweet,” I said as we pulled into our driveway.

            She opened the car door as soon as we were stopped.  But then she closed it slowly and sat facing away from me.  Was she dabbing at her eyes?

            Now it was my turn to be speechless.  I gazed out the windshield, not seeing what was in front of me.  Then I felt Trudy’s hand on my arm.

            “Jerry, I need to say something.”

            “OK, sure.”

            She pressed a finger hard against my lips.

“Just listen to me for a minute, Jerry.”  She sighed.  “I’m sorry for being so cold to you on the way home.  You didn’t deserve that.”

I started to speak, but she put her hand over my mouth.

“No, just listen, Jerry, please.”

            Her expression softened when she saw I wasn’t going to reply.

            “I’m not mad at you, Jerry.  Oh, yes, I wish things had gone differently this afternoon when you told the family we weren’t going to celebrate Christmas with the baby, but I’m sorry for not coming to your defense.  Mother had no right to treat you like that, and it’s been bugging me all the way home.  No, don’t say anything.  I’m not done yet.”

            Trudy’s hair swirled as she turned to the right to steal a glance at the house next door.

            “Just look at the Murphy’s house over there, Jerry.  There must be thousands of lights, and they’re every color of the rainbow.”

I nodded.

Trudy went on.  “They’ve got a Nativity scene in the front yard and Santa Claus with his sleigh and reindeer on the roof.  What kind of a mixed message is that anyway, Jerry?”

            Her green eyes flashed.  “I mean, really.  Reason for the season?  Come on!  How are we going to sort all this out for our baby?  She needs to know what’s right, you know.”

            We sat holding hands for a minute without talking.  Giant feathery snowflakes began falling, lit by the neighbor’s gaudy display.

             Trudy leaned my way and put her arms around me.  “I need you, Jerry.  Our baby needs you.  This Christmas thing—Well, I don’t know.  There’s so much we still have to figure out, and I really do want to do it together.”  Then she took my face in her hands and gave me a warm, sweet kiss.

Explore posts in the same categories: Christian Life, Thoughts from John

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