An awaken during the Christmas season.
When my sweet, little four-year-old, Hank, was in preschool, around the time of Christmas that year, his teachers shared with his class that they would put on a play about the birth of Christ. From that point on, all he desperately wanted was to play Jesus’ dad, Joseph.
“Mom, I really want to be either Jesus, or Joseph,” Hank said.
We continued to hear him talk about his quest for his coveted parts in the play for the next few weeks. I would gently try to explain that there are lots of important roles in the birth of Jesus that he may have forgotten about. I told him about the donkey, and the cattle, and the wise men, and even the shepherd part two. And he agreed that all those parts were cool, but that didn’t change his resolve to be cast as either Jesus or Joseph.
I’m fairly certain he dropped some pretty heavy hints to his teachers to make sure that he would get one of his choice roles. I walked in to pick him up from school one Monday and he ran to me with a huge smile.
“Hank has some exciting news to share with you,” his teacher said.
He hugged me with a big, awesome Hank hug.
“I’m Joseph!” he shouted.
Hank’s smile was brighter than our christmas tree at midnight. The walk from his classroom to the car was pretty long and we talked non-stop the whole way. The main thing he kept mentioning was that he was the one that got to be the closest to baby Jesus. He reassured me that they would use a baby doll, but he was so proud that he would get to watch him all during the show. The other main highlight was that he got to sit in a chair along with Mary while all the other kids in his class would stand behind him. We celebrated by having a dance party in our kitchen. When the girls got home from school this was the first piece of news he shared with them.
“Hank, that is the best part!” Lucy cheered.
Of all three of our children, Hank’s personality is the most laid back. He is a go-with-the-flow, kind-hearted and thoughtful kind of guy. At four years old, his competitive spirit was not fully seen yet, and he just enjoyed making sure everyone was happy. The type of personality Hank has is one I desire. Even at a young age, he was all about putting others first, making others feel incredibly special and never trying to upstage anyone. He allows the girls to be the stars at home when they put on shows in our living room and he gladly “oohs” and “ahhs” at them while they perform. This was the first time we had seen him want something so badly. It was out of character for him to have his mind set so much, but it was clear this was something he wanted to happen.
For the next few weeks at any given moment, you could find Hank dancing and singing around the house, practicing the songs for his play. He was focused on his role. We would hear “Go Tell it on the Mountain” over and over while we were at home, fixing dinner, taking baths, driving to school and even while playing. Hank loved the inflection and his excitement was contagious because it got the rest of us singing as well.
The day of the show, I picked up Hank from school for his usual 1 p.m. departure time. We went home, had lunch and waited for the girls and Adam to get home from school and work. We had to arrive back at school at 5:15 to get ready for the 6 p.m. show. He rarely was napping at this point and he was so excited for his show, there was no way I was going to get him to rest. We got Hank dressed in his button-up shirt and his nice dress pants and made sure to comb his hair, so he was stage ready. On the way to the play, we were still singing. When our family arrived at the school, we dropped him off in his classroom so he could prepare for the show. Hank was so excited for the play and he happily ran into the room with all the other students. The rest of our family went and got our seats, and it wasn’t long before the house lights went down. It was almost time for the Christmas show to start.
The lights hit the front of the stage and Hank’s class took their places. There was a wooden manger in the center of the church altar with straw where baby Jesus laid right in the middle of Hank and the little one playing Mary. The children filled the alter: a bunch of sheep, cows, donkeys, a few angels, three wise men with Mary and Joseph.
They sang the first song so beautifully. The children sang at the top of their lungs and you could tell from listening they had been practicing for weeks. Then the narration of the story began. As the narrator began explaining the story of Jesus and His birth, I looked over at Hank and noticed him blinking more than usual. I looked over at Adam, while the narrator continued the Christmas story.
“Is Hank supposed to be doing that,” Adam whispered.
It took us a few moments when Hank’s eyes started to get heavy to figure out if he was supposed to be sad or tired and if this was something that maybe the teachers prompted him to do. As a mom, I went to worry first. Is he okay? Is he about to pass out?
“Do you think Hank has something in his eye?” I questioned Adam.
His blinks started to get a lot longer, and he looked like something might be medically wrong.
Adam started laughing, quite at first, and then he started having serious belly laughter. Just then, the little girl playing Mary looked at Hank and whispered his name, but he didn’t say a thing. He just sort of looked over and rubbed his eyes again. The next song started and the children were singing quite loudly again. I started noticing even more, Hank’s blinks were getting slower and slower. His head began to droop and his shoulders went down in his chair. The children we’re all singing, but Hank had quit.
I looked over at Adam and frantically asked, “Do you think he’s okay? Do you think he’s getting sick? What’s going on?”
And as soon as the words came out of my mouth, Hank’s head hit his lap, and he had fallen asleep on the stage.
I sat there not knowing what to do. Surely he would wake up, I thought to myself, and sure enough as the next song started, Hank’s eyes came open. But quickly they closed again, and this time his head flung backwards, actually hitting the kid behind him. All the kids around him continued singing for five more songs. Hank began a routine that he did several times where he would wake up, sing a little, and then fall right back to sleep. Eventually, the long blinks slowly just quit, and Hank was out cold. My sweet, little Joseph, who had been so excited about his part in the play, was completely asleep, surrounded by a crowd of probably 100 people watching and laughing hysterically that Joseph fell asleep during the biggest part of the play. Even still, Hank stole the show that night with every nod of his head.
We have all been guilty of sleeping through some of life’s greatest moments. Maybe not literally, but one way or another we have missed huge opportunities that were staring us in the face. We are staring at a moment right now – Christmas time. We have a choice to chose JOY and PEACE or join the many people battling the hustle and bustle trying to make everything “perfect”. When we sleep we walk through life not engaged in all of the beauty around us. Especially in this Christmas season it is time for us to wake up to this beautiful life God has given us and the people in front of us. Maybe a little less wrapping gifts and rather wrapping those we love up in our arms with a hug. Maybe a little less baking and rather heating it up with your hubby in the bedroom (your welcome husbands). Or dare I say turning off those hallmark favorites and leaning into God’s word and spending time with him. Don’t waste your days and your potential, you are destined for greatness!