A few weeks ago, we went to Bluffton, Indiana for the Loving Shepherd Ministries benefit concert. Six different singing groups performed, and it was a very moving evening, but the song that really touched my heart this year was a medley of "O Come Little Children" and "Christmas Through the Eyes of a Child" sung by a mother and daughter duet. It wasn't the typical type of song that makes me cry, but sure enough, there I was with tears streaming down my cheeks as the lyrics described the childlike faith and wonder of the youngest among us. I couldn't help but to be overwhelmed and thankful at the thought of our first Christmas with the beautiful little boy who has completely stolen our hearts, and to praise God for His goodness and mercy in bringing him to our home - in spite of our own selfish desires. Of course, Mihiret was on my mind too. What would she give to witness the joy that our mutual son feels over new experiences? Yikealo saw me crying, got down off of his cousin's lap, came over to me with a worried expression and asked, "Mama, you sad?" I told him that I was crying because I was happy, which made him look totally confused, but he fished a tissue out of my purse and tried to wipe the tears away. Awww!
It IS wonderful to experience this holiday season through Yikealo's eyes, and it's so exciting to watch my son trying to process the whole concept of Christmas, and yet it makes me realize how much of a responsibility I have too. Yikealo is 3 1/2 - that's old enough to comprehend a little bit of the story of salvation, and I don't want to bury that underneath all of the trappings of an American Christmas celebration. So how do I keep Jesus at the forefront, when to a little boy (who until very recently never had anything to call his own) the lights and decorations and presents seem like the whole point?
We were shopping several weeks ago, and I mentioned the word Christmas, which prompted a question from Yikealo. "Mom, menden (what is it?) Christmas?" I thought for a minute and said, "Well, Christmas is like a big birthday party for Jesus. Do you remember the story that we read about Baby Jesus? (Yikealo nodded.) Well, Christmas is when Baby Jesus was born, and we are so happy that God sent him to us, that we celebrate." He listened intently, but he was far more interested in the Thomas ornament that we bought for the Christmas tree, which he LOVED setting up with us the day after Thanksgiving!
It's still a little hard to believe that I have Thomas the Tank Engine hanging on my tree! :-)
Of course we tried to make an even bigger deal out of setting up our Nativity scene, and told him the whole story of Baby Jesus again. He liked that too, and spent quite a bit of time over the next few days rearranging all of the pieces. The only problem is that I'm pretty sure that Joseph and Mary did NOT put Baby Jesus out on the roof of the stable while all of the wise men turned and walked away!
Maybe we are getting a little of the real meaning across though. Last weekend was our church's Christmas program, and Yikealo was sitting on the bench beside David while the choir sang "How Great Our Joy", which has become the boy's favorite song lately. He asked David, "Why joy?" to which David replied, "They're saying 'we're so happy that Jesus is here!'" Yikealo immediately jumped up, sucked in an awe-struck breath, looked back toward the lobby with a look of complete excitement (and joy!) on his face, and said, "Jesus is HERE?"