(The Legend of the Christmas Ornament and the Mystery of the Missing Chocolates)
You can tell when people had fun at your party – they can’t stop talking about it. That’s exactly what happened at our Christmas party hosted by our eldest son, Bart Xavier and his girlfriend Darya on December 24 at midnight.
We had lots of food, to name some –two delicious roasted ducks that Darya cooked, a pot of mouth watering beef stew, which Bart X slow cooked to perfection and various other favorite recipes such as baked salmon and holiday jello, courtesy of the Falcon family, cheese and butternut squash risotto by the Sheaffers, Lynn’s corn casserole and crispy lechon kawali which I ordered from Mom’s Bakeshoppe.
There, too, was the suspense and excitement of the White Elephant game the ten adult participants played as kids tried to anxiously await their turn to be handed their gifts from mom and dad, siblings, uncles and aunts. Poor Quincy was too tired and sleepy to keep up with what was going on so off to bed he went.
But it was Darya’s “Ornament Decorating contest” that made the night so much more exhilarating. All but the hosts (and Kim) participated in the contest and for a good 1 to 1 ½ hours, every waking soul in the house, including the 7-year-old twins Daniel and Gabriel, got busy with painting his or her ornaments. When painting was done, each ornament was presented with a story, or a legend, as Daniel put it. Bart X agreed to pick 2 semi-finalists, which turned out to be Lynn and Madelene, after which everyone got to vote for his choice of the winning ornament, which went to Madelene’s. To her went the prize – a box of yummy Godiva chocolates.
On Christmas day after our church service, we had lunch at our pastor’s house, along with a few friends from the congregation. It wasn’t till late in the afternoon that we got back home. Checking on my facebook notifications, I found Bart X’s posting on facebook about the box of chocolates he got from the White Elephant the previous night. It was a picture of the opened chocolate box showing some 3 pieces with every other cubicle empty. What followed was a long train of fb comments, each one chiming in his or her funny theory.
“Maybe Dad got to it before you did,” posted Madelene.
“But the box was sealed,” Bart X responded.
Mark went, “Did you look under the plastic fitting that the cholcolates fit in to? Perhaps the offender is snuggled up under there.”
“Well, they were sealed with the candies missing, so unless Bart Sr. is a magician, he couldn’t have got them out anyway. Is he a magician?” – that was Darya.
The back and forth conversation went on for a while until it shifted to the ornament decorating contest. Though Bart X jokingly said, “No more ornament contest next year; all those ornaments will go straight to the garbage,” everyone else wants to bring the game back on Christmas 2014. So, it was decided we’d do it again next year – this time, even Darya is joining in.
“If we do an ornament next year, I will depict the tale of missing chocolates and win the contest,” she said
“Yes! I will try to work the beast and Jesus into the story as well, to keep with Daniel’s narrative. Now we must have an ornament contest next year,” she added.
Some might find this subject a bit too trivial for the narrative but I honestly believe that this account is rich in subtle truths and inspirations, which are what I wish to share with my readers and some kindred spirits. First, when Bart X judged the 2 semi-finalists in the ornament contest, he picked the two simplest stories (about family which to him is what Christmas should be) and basic designs: Lynn picked the colorful plastic flowers and glued them on the ball. Then, she connected them with yellow lines that looked like waves. She explained that she did it with her baby girl (due out in April 2014) in mind, that she wanted to surround her with beautiful things such as flowers. Madelene’s ornament depicted her family, Quincy, Mark and herself, the beach, Grand Canyon and Quincy’s first Christmas Tree. Underneath all these images was printed the year 2013, all of which, Madelene explained as the special things they did as a family this year.
It is sometimes ironic but true that often, all it takes to win or succeed is a simple and honest to goodness approach, just like Madelene’s and Lynn’s. Funny how we tried so hard to win yet lost as we wove all those complicated tales of the triumph of light over darkness (Mark’s) or the world being one human family coming together and reaching out to those in need as represented by houses of different colors to denote different races (mine), or Henry’s tangled web of good versus evil thinking the deeper the subject, the better was our chance of winning or 7-year old Daniel’s ornament that “represents the glory of God.”
As for Daniel’s legend of the Christmas ornament, an undeniable and pleasant truth surreptitiously came to the fore. Daniel set out to distinguish his ornament by stating outright, “This ornament is the best.” “It is important.” Then he delivered what no one expected to hear from the mouth of a 7 year old child – “This ornament is about the Glory of God.” There was nothing in his design that gave even a trace of his story and I bet he doesn’t even have a clue about what he just said. Having been regularly exposed to his parents talking about the glory of God and our pastor during service and Bible studies, Daniel simply mouthed what he often heard. Up till Daniel spoke, adults in the room seemed to have just conveniently left out the name of the single most important reason for our celebration, the son of God. Indeed, we see the naked truth through a child’s eyes. Forget political correctness, etiquettes and social grace. A child will speak without malice, what he believes in his heart to be true. Of course, his truth is still a product of his immediate environment (mostly his home) and is, therefore, not necessarily true. But what matters is, he sincerely speaks the truth as he knows it. But the beauty of it all is, when spoken by a child, the truth comes through the prism of a child’s innocence and therefore, doesn’t and couldn’t hurt or offend.
Looking forward to Christmas 2014, I know Jesus will no longer be a stranger or remain unspoken in this home. He, too, will be very much a part of the narrative as we capture both in colors and in words the “glory of God.” firstname.lastname@example.org
Editors’ Note: Commenting on my column from issue 434 (Dec. 1-15, 2013), Emir Abinion, successful entrepreneur and practicing Christian, wrote:
I just wanted to comment on your article “LIFE” in your December 1-15 issue. The problem with knowing too much is that most of the time pride will rear it’s ugly character in us. We think we have all the answers and base everything on our own defined standards rather than the standards of a greater sovereign God. I use to think that I was a “self-made” man, that everything I have accomplished I have done and had control of it. All the positive-thinking books I have read and business classes I have taken, along with my pride, had me believing in that false promise. I did however know the difference between right and wrong even though I took all the credit. Today, I look back and wonder how I could have ever been that naive. Sometimes the irony is the smarter we think we are the more naive we become. Proverbs 1:7 tell us that “The fear of The Lord is the beginning of all knowledge…” Fear on this case doesn’t not mean to be afraid but reflects that we should be in reverence or in “awe” of The Lord. The difference in knowing right from wrong and being knowledgeable from the perspective of naivete or wisdom is in who we place the honor and glory to. Is it ourselves or in Christ alone?
I enjoyed reading your article and know that it will be a blessing to someone today and lead them at the foot of the cross. From a humble cradle in Bethlehem to the devastating cross at Calvary, His grace is always sufficient. May you, Bart and your wonderful family have a blessed and Merry Christmas. Thank you for your message.
Emir C Abinion
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