Christmas Eve Octopus

That’s pretty much how I felt during our Christmas Eve service last week. Like an octopus. Out of water.

I love going to the Christmas Eve service every year. We go every week but there is always something special about Christmas Eve that I look forward to all December long.  This year was no different.

We decided on going to the 6:30 service, our church offered one at 5 and one at 6:30. I figured we could finish using Skype with Clint’s parents, eat our Christmas Eve chili, and  have the boys bathed and in their PJs by that time. (Lofty goals, I know) While some people dress up for Christmas Eve service, I’ve learned with little ones to just take them in their PJs, that way when we get home, we can snuggle by the fire, read the Christmas story and then they are ready for bed. And Clint and I are then ready to spend the next 5+ hours putting together Christmas gifts for Christmas morning.

The time table worked in my head. Then we found out Clint was singing during the 6:30 service and had to be there at 6 for practice. Great, still no problem right, it would just mean we all ate our piping hot chili in about 5 minutes. Wonderful.

And we did it, no tears even, we were all in the van with both boys bucked and bathed and in their PJs and pulling out at 5:48 and we pulled into the parking lot of the church at 6:01 but luckily the 5:00 service was still going.

That’s about the time that the octopus in me came out. Because of course when you have two little ones in PJs you have two little ones who cannot walk across the parking lot. Not to mention the handful of toys that you grabbed running out the door hoping that they might keep the boys entertained for at least 5 minutes of the service.

We (and all the toys) made it inside just as the first service was letting out and everyone was getting cookies. Leighton really thought that he needed a cookie too, but I somehow distracted him and told him that they were for after the service (because the last thing we needed to add to the equation was sugar). Clint went in to practice and I wrangled the boys and toys and started to find a seat.

Leighton declared that he wanted to sit in the front row. So we got settled in our seats and saved a seat for Clint and watched rehearsal. Both boys climbed up in the seats next to me and just sat quietly and watched it all. I was beginning to think that it was going to be easy.

Wrong thought.

Right before the service started we walked to the back to pick up our candles. Caedmon saw them as an extra toy, and I was thankful for another thing to distract him with. Then my mind flashed back to last year’s Christmas Eve service when Leighton lit his hair on fire during the candle part. Literally. The joys of candle light services.

And so the service started. And my octopus arms came out.

I think mom’s have the amazing ability to be reaching 5 chairs down to grab a toy, picking up one child off the floor, handing the other child a different toy, setting another child down, helping one climb up on the chair while simultaneously helping another child climb down, all at the same time while sitting upright, looking at the preacher and paying attention with the 0.2% of her brain that is not currently engaged in child rearing/protecting/helping/entertaining behavior. It’s really quite amazing.

Clint went up for his solo. Leighton was content to sit next to me and watch Daddy. Caedmon however felt like he needed to be up close and personal with Daddy. So before my octopus arms could grab him, he had crawled out of his chair (for the 427th time mind you) and headed up to the front where Daddy was singing. Caedmon proceeded to walk up to Daddy, look up and wave and say “hi dadda” and then walked back across the front of the church to me. He then turned around and wandered back across the front of the church, stopped and looked at Chris and Jason for a bit (our two pastors) and then continue to wander around the front of the church. Of course the whole time dressed in bright blue fleece pjs with polar bears on them. He eventually made it back to where Clint was still singing his very serious solo and then weaved himself in and out of the music stand and Clint’s legs, occasionally stopping to look up and wave and say “hi dadda”. This continued for the entirety of Clint’s solo, which I think lasted about 43 minutes. Probably not really that long but it felt like it. Clint missed the majority of it because he chose to close his eyes during the song. Go figure.

Speaking of closing eyes, that was the next thing that Jason suggested we all do. We close our eyes and picture ourselves back on that first Christmas Eve night in the stable. The thought went through my mind of what my boys would do with my eyes closed. I thought it better to leave my eyes open. At that point Caedmon was half dancing half skipping around in front of our seats. Then he discovered Billy and his guitar up on stage. And he and Billy started making faces at each other. And giggling. Hopefully we didn’t ruin everyone else’s mind pictures of the first Christmas.

After rescuing a few more dump trucks that were flung off the end of the seats and discovering Caedmon pulling Kleenex out of the box under the chair, wiping his nose and then stuffing those Kleenex back into the box, we were at the end of the service. One more song to go.

Of course it was Silent Night, and we were all to light our candles. I just prayed that no one would light anything on fire this year. Leighton did great, he stood there and held his candle like a pro. No flaming hair this year.

Caedmon on the other hand not so much. I had him on one hip and we initially tried just lightening my candle. He of course wanted his own candle, and rather then cause a scene or inferno at the front of the church while everyone else was being somber, we handed him a candle. He would light it off of my candle and then blow it out, and then light it and then blow it out, and then light it and then blow it out. Did you know that a toddler can light and extinguish a candle 673 times during Silent Night? Its true. But hey, at least no one’s hair was lit on fire this year. I count that as a plus.

In a few years the boys will be big enough that they will sit still and listen during the Christmas Eve service. I hope that it is something that they grow to treasure as much as I do, but until then, I’m going to treasure these moments, crazy as they may be and hold the memories near even if I didn’t get to hear much of the message, I was filled with the joy and peace of watching my little guys knowing just as Jesus was a gift to the world so many Christmas’ ago, these two are a gift to me.