A Christmas to remember

A Christmas to remember

This is an account from a mother about her family as they ate dinner on Christmas Day in a small restaurant many miles from their home. Nancy, the mother, relates…

We were the only family with children in the restaurant. I sat my baby Erik in a high chair and noticed everyone was quietly eating and talking. Suddenly, Erik squealed with excitement and said, “Hi there.” He pounded his fat baby hands on the high-chair tray. His eyes were wide with excitement and his mouth was bared in a toothless grin. He wriggled and giggled with merriment. It was a man with a tattered rag of a coat; dirty, greasy and worn. His pants were baggy with a zipper at half-mast and his toes poked out of would-be shoes. His shirt was dirty and his hair was uncombed and unwashed. His whiskers were too short to be called a beard and nose was so varicose it looked like a road map.

We were too far from him to smell, but I was sure he smelled. His hands waved and flapped on loose wrists. “Hi there, baby; hi there, big boy. I see ya, buster,” the man said to Erik.

My husband and I exchanged looks, “what do we do?” Erik continued to laugh and answer, “Hi, hi there.” Everyone in the restaurant noticed and looked at us and then at the man. The old dirty man was creating a nuisance with my beautiful baby.

Our meal came and the man began shouting from across the room, “Do you know patty cake? Do you know peek-a-boo? Hey, look, he knows peek-a-boo.”

Nobody thought the old man was cute. He was obviously drunk. My husband and I were embarrassed. We ate in silence; all except for Erik, who was running through his repertoire for the admiring oldie, who in turn, reciprocated with his cute comments.

We finally got through the meal and headed for the door. My husband went to pay the bill and told me to meet him in the parking lot. The old man sat poised between me and the door. “Lord, just let me get out of here before he speaks to me or Erik,” I prayed. As I drew closer to the man, I turned my back trying to side-step him and avoid any air he might be breathing. As I did, Erik leaned over my arm, reaching with both arms in a baby’s pick-me-up, position. Before I could stop him, Erik has propelled himself from my arms to the man’s.

Suddenly a very old smelly man and a very young baby consummated their love relationship. Erik in an act of total trust, love and submission laid his tiny head upon the man’s ragged shoulder. The man’s eyes closed, and I saw tears hover beneath his lashes. His aged hands full of grime, pain and hard labor – gently, so gently cradled my baby’s bottom and stroked his back.

No two beings have ever loved so deeply for so short a time. I stood awestruck. The old man rocked and cradled Erik in his arms for a moment, and then his eyes opened and set squarely on mine. He said in a firm commanding voice, “You take care of his baby.” Somehow I managed, “I will,” from a throat that contained a stone. He pried Erik from his chest unwillingly, longingly, as though he were in pain. I received my baby, and the man said, “God bless you ma’am, you’ve given me my Christmas gift.”

I said nothing more than a muttered thanks. With Erik in my arms, I ran for the car. My husband was wondering why I was saying, “My God, my God, forgive me.” I had just witnessed Christ’s love shown through the innocence of a tiny child who saw no sin, who made no judgment; a child who saw a soul, and a mother who saw a suit of clothes.

I was a Christian who was blind, holding a child who was not. I felt it was God asking—“Are you willing to share your son for a moment?” when He shared His Son for all eternity.

The ragged old man, unwittingly, had reminded me, “To enter the Kingdom of God, we must become as little children.”

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