Christmas, as you know, is a time for people to celebrate the birth of Jesus and to show our appreciation for his saving grace by bestowing gifts, big and small, on loved ones and strangers. Kwanzaa, too, is a time of celebration. From December 26 through January 1, we highlight the seven principles of Kwanzaa, which include: unity; self-determination; collective work and responsibility; cooperative economics; purpose; creativity and faith. I chose to celebrate the spirit of Kwanzaa by sharing the following short story with you. Consider it my Kwanzaa gift; a celebration of my faith, my personal purpose (to write), and creativity (the story is a fictional account of love in action). I hope you enjoy!
Me, Baby Jesus & Red Rover
by Ann Fields
Christmas starts early in the Andrews household and this Christmas was no different. Just before the sun rose, three sets of feet came stomping down the stairs. The echoes of those treads bounced off the hallway walls and came to rest in the living room where the owners of said feet had stumbled to a halt. In this room, the noise came not from stomps but from exclamations of joy as the brothers examined with greedy eyes the bounty of decorated packages heaped under the tree.
The boys had enjoyed enough Christmases to know that the opening of those enticing boxes and bags didn’t start until Mama and Daddy showed—Mama with her cup of coffee and Daddy with his video recorder for capturing memories the couple would enjoy many years from now when the boys were away celebrating Christmas with their own families.
On this particular Christmas morn though, Mama and Daddy did not arrive with drink or recorder but with a large box that made whining and scratching noises.
“Oh boys…” the parents called over the boys’ loud, excited chatter about what possible treasures lay under the tree.
Nearly in unison, the boys turned and watched in perplexed surprise as their parents sat the box down, oh so carefully, and beckoned the boys, come. The invitation was unnecessary for it took little time for the boys to identify the sounds coming from the box, and once that happened, they scrambled over each other, rushing to the box. And what did they see when they peered inside? The one present they had been begging Santa for for years…a puppy.
A collective shout of glee filled the house, almost raising the roof so great was its intensity. Three sets of arms plunged inside the box eager to hold, pet and play. Jim, the oldest of the three and the one with the longest reach, scooped up the puppy first. He stood with the prize forcing the other two to gather by his side. All joined in in stroking the dog’s coat, staring into its clear brown eyes, and inspecting its tiny ears, paws and tail. In return, the tiny pup wiggled and licked the boys like crazy. During this time of introduction, the boys all thought the same thought but it was little Marty who voiced it out loud, “This is the best Christmas ever.”
With joy on their faces and love in their hearts, Mama and Daddy stood looking at the scene. Reluctant to interrupt but needing to just the same, Daddy instructed, “He’ll need a name,” and Mama piped in, “Something that’ll fit the Andrews last name.”
This too was an unnecessary prompt. Because the boys had dreamt long of this day, they had previously convened and settled on a name. Now all three happily exclaimed, “Red Rover.” And again, “Red Rover.”
Mama and Daddy, in pride-filled surprise, looked at each other and smiled with glad eyes. They could imagine no better name than that which bespoke of their sons’ favorite backyard game.
Across the room, at the base of the fire sat a lovely handcrafted nativity scene. In his cradle of wood, cloth and straw, I could clearly see the Messiah’s glowing smile. Over the years, I had learned him quite well and knew that this smile conveyed his blessing as well. Not just for the pup’s name as bestowed by the boys but also for the love that already adorned the hearts of both—both puppy and boys.
And who am I? you may want to know. Why, I am Mary, the Christmas tree angel perched high atop the Andrews’s tree.