Stick-figure baby Jesus

Each year on Christmas Eve the whole family gathers at my grandparents. Ever since I can remember there’s the skinny tree in the corner, glittering with red and white, and the pile of presents underneath.

The day begins late afternoon as mini vans arrive. Hugs, smiles, laughter. We chat and snack. Amid the usual questioning of “Who are you dating?” and “How’s school?” we are summoned to the Christmas Story. We read, then open presents.

Several years ago I asked if I could read the Christmas story. Each year I try to mix it up. Last year we had a hilarious performance of the shepherds by my cousins James and Jake. Afterwards one of my aunts asked if it was ok that we laughed so much. I said, “Well, the story isn’t supposed to be boring!”

After such a beautiful humorous script, I was at a loss for this year’s reading. The morning of I offered up the scripture in prayer, and asked what I should do.

Without much ado, the idea came: have each person draw (with crayons of course) one of the characters. So during our chit-chat/snack/questioning time I handed out half-sheets of paper with names on top and crayons.

There was much laughter and concentration as images emerged, ranging from culturally relevant (guitar-playing, rocker Joseph) to traditional (chorus of beautiful angles) to borderline ridiculous (stick-figure baby Jesus and Mary with a beard).

We gathered together, each with picture in hand. My simple instruction was to act out what I read.

So the story was told, and each had a part. Jesus was birthed onto the wooden floor, the angels “ooooo”d, the sheep “baaaa”d, the shepherds prodded, and Caesar stood proud and tall.

What a joyous time. We told the ancient story with creativity, passion, humor and love. Together.

Is it ok that we laughed? Well, it’s not supposed to be boring.

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