What you can miss

Categorized as  Christmas,  extended family,  gifts,  programs

That’s what it said on the box that held the onion rings.  Sitting there at the local Dairy Queen last night post Boy Three’s Christmas program, I laughed.  Reading it aloud to our own smallish tribe of primates, I couldn’t help but think of the hot batch we’d just watched onstage.

It was the seventh-grade show.  Stretched across the risers in the high school auditorium, a wriggling, squirming batch of adolescents gathered, nervous and self-conscious, to perform for their assembled parents and grands.

To my right sat my mother, having flown all the way from the wheat belt for B3’s show.  To her right, B2, the one who dominates the stage as a senior and member of the high school swing choir and drama department.  To the left, Mr. Schrock and his father, THE Mr. Schrock with Little perched on his lap.  Behind us sat a great-aunt and -uncle, then an “adoptive” set of grands, and the other grandma, Grandma Schrock.

What a difference there was, I thought, listening to the cracking and growling of boys in that awkward ‘tween stage, not quite men, but no longer little boys; what a difference between those junior high years and the high school years.  What a leap it was from there (middle school) to the juniors and seniors who performed with confidence, dipping, twirling, leaping, and singing out; to the professionalism and superb abilities of the Notre Dame Glee Club we’d enjoyed on Saturday last.

I watched Mr. Middle School, standing stiff, uncomfortable with being in front.  Grinning, The Mister leaned over, making a motion with his hands (“I think his lips are moving?”).  I nodded.  “I think I saw them just now.”

Remembering his brother’s prayer at the dinner table earlier, I swallowed a cackle.  “…and Lord,” he’d prayed, “help him to sing good – and loud!”

This coming Saturday, it’s The Pray-er’s turn.  He’ll take the stage again with the high school music department, band and all, and we’ll tuck in yet one more Christmas event.  Knowing it’s the last one of his high school career puts a lump in my throat.

This morning, thoughts of firsts and lasts fill my mind.  Little’s first performance on stage with the Cherub Choir a week or so ago.  The last Christmas concert for Boy Two.  A seventh-grade performance by Boy Three and his peers, a smaller milestone that could be overlooked…if I wasn’t looking.

And that’s what I don’t want to miss – precious moments, priceless gifts, extraordinary treasures in an ordinary life.  We will never pass this way again, you and I.  All we’ve got, really, is today, right now, this moment in time.  This moment that’s full, if we’re looking, of fingerprints divine.

“Oh, grant me, Lord, the gift of eyes wide open, ears that hear, and a heart that’s soft to receive the gifts, to embrace The Gift, God in skin, who dwells within.”

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