The little ones gather 'round while Daddy puts the finishing touch on the lovingly prepared breakfast tray, depositing a daisy into a dainty vase.
Plastic, because of the proximity of children, but dainty nonetheless.
Up the stairs they go, jumping up and down in their glee, hiding happy giggles behind chubby fingers.
After one final "shush" from Daddy, the oldest of the offspring flings open the bedroom door, and the entire tribe gushes in, shouting "Happy Mother's Day!" at the sleeping woman.
She is not really sleeping, of course. She woke with the first pitter-patter of feet, and has been listening with a mixture of amusement and stark terror.
What culinary delight will I be 'enjoying' this year? And my kitchen--Lord, protect it, again, from the combination of children and raw eggs!
But she dutifully feigns sudden waking, and amazement at what they have prepared for her, and all so quietly, and without her help... (Give that woman an award for her acting ability!)
The ritual plays itself out, year after year.
Gradually, the little ones become much less little, less eager to get up early, and less thrilled by the entire procedure.
Just a few days before Mother's Day one year, a family argument gets ugly.
The eldest had let her words fling before her brain filtered them, then spent a stormy night reliving and rehashing the entire incident, pleading her case before the Lord.
Funny thing was, her defense sounded weaker and weaker in her own ears as the evidence was presented.
Finally, silence, tears, and a request. "Lord, I don't like this constant struggle. Help me understand how to treat my mother better. Show me how." She fell into a fitful sleep.
He answered promptly. Her Bible reading for the next day was John's account of the crucifixion. Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother,... When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, "Dear woman, here is your son," and to the disciple, "Here is your mother." From that time on, this disciple took her into his home. (John 19:25-27, NIV)
So. Even from the cross, He was thinking about her well being, putting her first.
Early Sunday morning, the oldest carries the tray up the stairs alone, having requested to fly solo this year.
With a shake of the linen napkin, a note flutters out, expressing sorrow for unkind words and harsh criticism.
Under the perfect croissant, a card: I promise to refrain from jumping to conclusions about your motivation.
Leaning against the grapefruit juice glass, a coupon: This entitles you to one year during which you will never be accused of 'meddling' in my life.
A hug between mother and daughter restores a relationship, and Mom's certainly not acting this time as the tears flow.
The impatiently hovering younger siblings crash the party, and the entire family enjoys a group hug.