Keep Christmas

From the Farm:


Published in the Casper Journal December 20, 2011

Christmas is busy. Christmas is hustle. Christmas is bustle. Christmas is hurry and Christmas is scurry, but I don’t care. I still vote that we “keep Christmas.”
Keep Christmas by giving. Despite popular belief, Christmas isn’t just for children, it’s for adults. If the “very best part of Christmas is the presents you give away,” then parents have the best part. I don’t care what the scrooges say, I love this time of year. Imagine shopping for nine children. Just the thought calls for a long winter’s nap. It’s crazy, exhausting, overwhelming, but sooo much fun! My husband and I thoroughly enjoy planning, scheming, dreaming, giggling and wrapping. We generally go shopping about 9 p.m. Once most of our children are asleep and the older ones are keeping watch, we can go to the store for hours. Other bleary-eyed parents are usually out as well, making last-minute choices, shopping, discussing. The stores are generally quiet. Associates are close to answer our questions, or reach the bikes on the highest shelf. We can make decisions and plan our secrets without too much distraction. Something about late-night shopping and hiding gifts makes magic. I’ll keep it.
Keep Christmas by dreaming. “Let’s do a live nativity!” suggested one of our children excitedly at dinner one evening. The idea caught on like wildfire. “Our goats can be sheep!” “I’ll be the shepherd!” “We can borrow a donkey for Mary to ride in on!” Soon our rustic goat stable was transformed into Bethlehem, the tool shed became the over-crowded inn, and the chicken coop became the cloud for an angel to stand on. Our good-natured friend brought the donkey (a mule) for the children to practice with a few times. Finally, it was dress rehearsal. With the karaoke machine plugged in on the outside porch, I started reading the Christmas story. Out of the shadows stepped the donkey, led by our oldest son (dressed in a bathrobe). Daughter number two rode on top, trying her best to look pregnant and tired. At the inn, the couple was turned away, and stepping carefully across the snow, they made their way to the goat stable. I tried to control my voice, reading in a serious tone, although I had to cover up a giggle every once in a while.
The shepherds kept watch in our pasture as another daughter, hiding in the bushes, flipped on the flood lights. There stood our six-year-old, a white costume draped over her snowsuit, her pink ski cap on her head, and her mittens extending from the flowing angel sleeves. “Behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy ...” she began. Just then a car drove past. “They must wonder about this heavenly scene at our farm,” I laughed silently. The shepherds made haste to the stable as the goats pulled impatiently on their harnesses, bleating softly. As the next verse began, a wise man appeared (only two years old) riding solemnly on the donkey and supported with a steady, older hand. Our makeshift star lit up at the nighttime sky above the shed, and we all gathered around to see young Mary holding a child in her arms. It was perfect. A memory to keep.
Keep Christmas by remembering. A miracle happened in a Bethlehem barn. A miracle happened in our barn. Everyday barns, everyday people, everyday lives. It’s good to be children sometimes. It’s good to be childlike at Christmas. Despite the hustle and bustle and hurry and scurry, it’s worth it. Keep Christmas.

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