December is full of Christmas parties, Christmas shopping, Christmas plays, Christmas musicals, Christmas wishes and Christmas cheer. This season has always been the most exciting time of year for me. Maybe it is the anticipation, the surprises, I cannot put my finger on it. Which is probably why I like it. (Come to think of it, the same can be said for my golf game) Maybe Christmas is special to me because of its purpose and meaning. Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus. I now keep the date marked on all my calendars. Might want to keep that day marked on your calendars too; just saying cause He gets a little jealous if you forget.
My kids love Christmas for a different reason. They start counting down from 365 as soon as Christmas day passes. They take a slight mental studder step on their birthday of course as they get inundated with gifts that day as well. Admittedly some of the toys they get are pretty snazzy. Like the Casio keyboard or the remote control walking dragon or the programmable talking Elmo or the Disney movies or the Thomas the train sets. Putting some of these things together or programming them can be quite a challenge.
One of the funniest things for me to watch Christmas morning is my dad and father-in-law help get the toys out of the boxes. They use pocket knives, screwdrivers, box cutters, threaten a blow torch, even use their teeth. Obviously lawyers have made it to the North Pole. I can only image a few years ago an elf did not properly fasten a toy correctly in a box. The toy got loose, suffered broken parts and mental anguish...o my. You can see the North Pole Register headline now. "Toy suffers child rejection - Elf #98934389 under investigation for improper package securage." Now the NPPA (North Pole Packaging Authority) has strictly regulated the elves to use more rubber bands, steel ties, mystery plastic fasteners and tape than is needed to repair the international space station. Ultimately the children still suffer, as they wait and wait for their toys to be unfastened by frustrated Pop and Papa.
Speaking of suffering around Christmas...a few years back about a week after Christmas we had all gone to bed when I was suddenly awakened/awoke/awoken...I woke up unexpected about 1:56 AM by an unknown voice. Moms have a sixth sense to hear their children and know when their kids are sick. Dads have a sixth sense knowing something is in the house that does not belong. Here I was, wide awake from a dead sleep, at 1:56 AM. I was thinking how did this person get in the house? Are the girls going to hear him? Will he get startled and leave? Maybe I should make a noise. He must have seen all our empty electronic boxes on the street and he wants the loot. Maybe I was just dreaming. I took a deep breath and settled back down.
I heard the voice again! I prayed that this was not happening. Lord I have two young girls and a lovely wife. After I prayed, my mind started racing. I thought, by the time I could load a gun or reach the toilet plunger (under distress your mind thinks of the strangest weapons) the intruder would probably hear me. I was still in my bed under the covers with my eyes closed..."Kipp there is somebody in the house!" whispered my wife. I whispered back, "Well since you are up, go see who it is." Amazing how much pain can be inflected by the simple combo of a thumb and pointer finger. "Aren't you the man of the house?" As I quietly exit the bed, I whispered back "You just had to go there."
I started down the hallway with no weapon, no idea of what to do, no plan. I prayed again. I thought, if I survive the first encounter and he does not shoot first, I would help him load his truck with whatever material item he wanted. If he threatened to harm my family, I was going to do whatever it took to take him out. As I got closer to my oldest daughters room I heard the voice again. It was a voice I knew!
I had heard that voice before. I stopped cold trying to think where I knew this voice from. Work, the local golf pro, the grocery store, church...nothing was ringing a bell. I finally stepped closer to the door of my daughter's room. "Good Morning. It's 8:00. It's time for your oatmeal." I said "ELMO!" I knew it was somebody I knew. The programmable talking Elmo doll had obviously had some issue with its internal clock or a low battery. Surely it was not the fault of the parental programmer. We had programmed it to wake up our daughter at 8:00 announcing it was time for her oatmeal. I reached down and grabbed talking Elmo by his throat. I walked back to my room to show my wife. She was pointing the gun at me...no just kidding. "Why are you holding Elmo?!" As soon as she asked, Elmo spoke again. "Is your oatmeal delicious?" "Hey that's the voice we have been hearing."
My daughter thankfully has not asked for her Talking Elmo since that evening. I would hate to have to explain that Talking Elmo is no longer with us. As for the lesson learned, be careful not to get wrapped up in what we do at Christmas and forget why we celebrate Christmas. You may get taught a lesson too.