Monica loved Christmas decorations. The rule was that she couldn’t open the Christmas box until December 15th. Early that morning she sneaked into the back of the garage, pulled out the Christmas box and opened it like a precious and rare gift. She inhaled deeply. The small plastic Christmas trees gave off a unique fragrance which she smelled only at Christmas.
Monica’s mom grunted exaggeratedly as she lugged out the ladder to hang the lights. They got busy all morning, stringing lights, hanging sparking tinsel on the garland that surrounded their front window, and lining up the electric candles that welcomed people along their front walk way.
Finally, Monica and her mom stood out in front of their house admiring their creation.
“It looks wonderful,” Mom said.
“Just like it did last year,” Monica replied.
“We’re not done just yet,” Said Monica’s mom as Monica started toward the door, “We still have one more decoration to put up.”
Monica’s mom opened the trunk of the car and dragged out a large rectangle shaped box. Monica’s eyes bugged out as she ripped open the top and saw a manger scene, wrapped in plastic covering, ready to be fixed under the tinsel clothed garland that sparkled against the lights.
Together they unwrapped the wooden figures: Mary, Joseph, the Angel, and the manger where Monica was about to put the baby Jesus inside
“Not just yet,” Mom said. “The baby Jesus doesn’t come until Christmas.”
The 25th came before Monica knew it. It was colder and darker then she expected that night as she kneeled in the grass, admiring the manger scene on their front lawn. Mary and Joseph were there. A couple of sheep appeared to be waiting in eager anticipation.
“Time to go to church,” her mom shouted from the door. And together they climbed into the car and headed for church. As they drove down the street, Monica could see the lights dance off the tinsel that encircled the manger. To Monica, it looked like a halo.
When they arrived home, Monica was filled with Christmas Carols. And when they pulled up in the driveway Monica didn’t wait until the engine was shut off before she jumped out and ran across the lawn to the manger scene. She fumbled in her coat pocket for a second or two then pulled out the figure of the baby Jesus. She placed him in the manger and smiled. But after a minute her smile disappeared. She stared deeply at the baby.
“You know what really I want for Christmas this year, mom?” asked Monica.
“What’s that, sweetie?”
“I want dad to be here. And that we’d all be together again.”
“Me too, sweetie.” Mom said wiping an unexpected tear from her eye and putting her arm around Monica’s shoulder.
“But wherever he is, I hope he’s having a merry Christmas,” said Monica.
They huddled together in the frozen December grass; held each other gently, quietly remembering the promise of Monica’s favorite hymn: sleep in heavenly peace.
Then together they said a prayer as we do now:
Dear God, we thank you for giving us Jesus, and we pray for a day when he will bring all people together. Amen.