Christmas child brings joy, walks his own path

Categorized as 12/06/10 Goshen News column

Looking at the lights that shine now on the tree and listening to Andy Williams sing the classics, my heart quiets, and I remember just why this season is so special for our family.  It was on a gray, wintery Monday exactly three weeks before Christmas that a bouncing baby boy was born.  He came smack dab on his due date, responsible child that he was, bringing with him a flood of joy and protective love such as his two young parents had never known.  Trumpets blew, some said, while angels sang and both sides of the family scrambled to get their hands on the child.  He had a headful of dark hair with bright blue eyes and looked, everyone said, “just like his father.”  Even at 8 lb., 10 oz., there was scarcely enough of him to go around as four first-time grandparents and six new aunts and uncles lined up to greet him.  The firstborn of two firstborns, the child soon demonstrated a remarkable vocabulary, astonishing his parents with his insight and ability to articulate.  “Is he 2 or 22,” they would murmur to one another.  “Is he 5 or 25?” When he was 19 months old, the little family moved to another state so the father could pursue a college degree.  There, they found a tiny apartment furnished in Early American Poverty with a small strip of grass outside where the toddler played.  By the child’s third Christmas, the young couple had scraped together enough money to buy their first nativity set.  Excited, they carefully arranged the holy family, placing the Babe in a protective circle of sheep, camels, and a donkey.  The father lifted his son in his arms, pointing out each character in turn.  “That’s Mary, Jesus’ mama,” he said.   “This is Joseph, his daddy.  And these three men here?  They’re the wise men.” Blinking solemnly, the toddler looked up at his own daddy.  “And where,” he asked, “are the foolish men?” It was in his early years there in the apartment that the boy displayed a natural ability to adopt various accents.  His friends included two Arab children and a boy from England whose charming British accent he easily reproduced.  This talent served him well, enabling him to play the part of a Yiddish shopkeeper to perfection in a Christmas play, bringing down the house.  Later, he would instigate riotous laughter with his spot-on Bugs Bunny imitations for his family and friends.  He gave his heart to Jesus at a very young age and learned to pray powerful prayers.  When he asked God to “send a baby to my house,” he got a little brother.  (Never mind that in later years he would say, “I prayed for a baby, not a monster!”) One day as he knelt praying, his mother heard him say, “Debil, you can’t have this family.  Only Jesus can.”  Finishing up, he said with authority, “Debil, you’re gonna lose in the end!” The boy grew.  He played with Legos by the hour.  He memorized Adventures in Odyssey stories.  He devoured the Redwall books, eagerly listened when his mother read the Chronicles of Narnia, and bought his first BB gun.  He joined the quiz team at church.  Through his school years, his faith and character continued to grow.  It was his sixth-grade teacher, Mr. Hammond, who told his parents, “He’s quiet, but he’s a leader.”  In high school, he got his first job.  He got his driver’s license.  He took two mission trips to Mexico, leaving behind a piece of his heart with the people of Juarez.  As a junior, he welcomed his third little brother with open arms and an eager love.  That boy is now a man.  His three younger brothers look up to him.  So do the junior high boys in his group at church.  He’s off pursuing his own dreams, walking his own path now, and we miss him very much.  The house is quieter, the laundry pile is smaller, and the peanut butter no longer evaporates.  Knowing, though, that he’s in God’s hands gives us joy.  Happy birthday, Jordan.  Rhonda Schrock is proud of herself for not having answered that one question (see above) and for letting him live to see his twenty-first birthday after the alarm clock   incident. 

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