We are staring at another monstrosity, a Christmas yard display gone horribly awry. The lawn of a neighbor is covered in a collection of Christmas and Holiday figures that seems to have been chosen for one common feature, they all plug in. It’s blinding, I put my sunglasses on in an attempt to ward off night-blindness when I look away. I see other neighbors slathering 35 sunblock on and sitting in lawn chairs hoping to get a late season tan. My mind is full of anything but Christmas cheer.
“It’s beautiful Auntie Vivian. I love it.” says my nearly 4 year old nephew, The Mancub.
“Look at the pretty colors!” says Sweetpea, my 6 year old niece. “Isn’t it lovely?”
“Yes.” I lie. “See the reindeer’s heads moving? And their legs move too.”
“Ooooh!” Both of them sigh.
Sweetpea asks me to pull closer to the manger scene. As we pull up, they Oooh and Aaah in unison. This display also glows from within.
Sweetpea squeals “Look, there’s Mary and Joseph and the baby Jesus, and the Wise Men.”
“Ooooh!” The Mancub sighs
I think the visit to the lights is going swimmingly. Then comes the question.
“So, where was everyone before Jesus was born?” Asks The Mancub innocently.
“Well, they were all here.” I said.
“But you said Jesus is God. How could they be here if he wasn’t born yet?”
Me, not seeing the trap answers “Honey, Jesus is God’s son,…”
“That means Joseph is God?” The Mancub smartly closing this little pre-school trap on me.
What follows is me trying to explain that Joseph isn’t God, the eternal nature of God and the incarnation. I try to relate how Joseph is Jesus daddy on earth, stupidly, through adoption. They know that I had a daughter and gave her up. Somehow, I think they understand this, we’ve talked about it for the past two years. I think, this is an easy way to explain. I was wrong.
“No. You know how Amy is my daughter, but Susan and Harry are her Mommy and Daddy?”
“How old were you when you gave her up?” they ask.
“17. So back to Jesus…”
Sweetpea “17 is young.”
The Mancub “Those sure are pretty lights.”
Me “Yes, it is young, yes they are pretty lights. So God wanted to send his Son Jesus…”
Sweetpea “Did Grandma and Grandpa get angry at you?”
Now I’m beginning to feel terror, Pandora’s Box is open and I can’t seem to close it. “Yes honey, they were angry. So Jesus…”
Sweetpea “Well, you were very young.”
Me “Yes. Jesus…”
The Mancub “Look, Santa’s on their porch. Is he real?”
Me “No, he’s a statue. Now, back to Jesus…”
Sweetpea “Will my Mommy and Daddy ever give me up?” I begin to hear the coming flood. “Can I live with you if they ever have to give me, (sniff) up?”
Me “Sweetpea, your Mommy and Daddy will never ever give you up. And you can always live with me. So, now Jesus…”
Sweetpea “Well, you were young.”
I chicken out and decide to run “Look! More Christmas Lights!”
The Mancub and Sweetpea “Oooohh!”