The lights of the stage made my headache scream, and I felt my knees getting wobbly again. The choir director kept stopping the bass section to go over and over the notes on the next to last stanza, and I was feeling increasingly weary.
“OK. Let’s take it from the beginning. Ready?” John lifted his arms and the music began. It was the fourth run-through of the song that would be our opening at our church’s annual Christmas play on Christmas Eve.
It’s a Christmas countdown and we can hardly wait.
Day-by-day anticipation; of our favorite celebration.
It’s a Christmas countdown as each day disappears.
Three, two, one before you know it, Christmas is here! ”*
We had sung this song with enthusiasm four tries ago, but now, we barely moved our lips. My feet ached, as well as my head, and all I wanted to do was go home and go to sleep—preferably for a month.
Finally, the practice was over, and I drove home in a stupor. As I walked in the kitchen door, Dale greeted me with a kiss and said, “You look like a whipped puppy.”
“Yeah. I feel like a whipped puppy, too.”
“How many more practices?”
I crossed to the corkboard and marked off the night with a giant red “X.” “Only five, and it seems like five too many. I’m going to get a bath and hit the hay…you coming?”
“Naw. I did some shopping tonight and I have a few things to wrap.” He grinned at me and I gave him a big hug as I headed down the hall.
“You’re a good hubby…don’t stay up too late,” I called over my shoulder.
As I relaxed into the warm water, I thought of the five practices to come and groaned. I was so exhausted; I just didn’t see how I was going to make it through them and then the two performances on Christmas Eve. “Lord, give me strength,” I prayed as I toweled off and stumbled to bed.
I pushed my way through the next five practices and could hardly wait to get home each night to wield my red marker on that date on the calendar. “One day to go,” I muttered.
The day of the performances was at hand, and I was so tired that I could barely keep my eyes open while we waited backstage for the cue to line up. As I followed the soprano ahead of me to the stage, my knees were once again made of jello, and I drew a deep breath and said a quick prayer.
“It’s a Christmas countdown and we can hardly wait. Day by day anticipation…” we sang for the hundredth time.
At the end of the performance, I wobbled my way off stage and collapsed into the car that my husband had pulled around to the front doors of the church narthex.
“Only one more performance, Honey, and then you’re done! You all sang very well…it was good,” he cheered. Rah. Rah. Rah.
My head hit the pillow as soon as I could get my shoes off, and I sleepily asked my hubby to set the alarm for an hour later. Our last performance would be in two hours, and I just had to get a nap…I just had to.
When I woke to the shrill ring of the clock, I felt weaker than water, and I couldn’t get out of bed. And then I thought of something…could it be?
“Dale,” I called.
“Could you do me a favor?”
“Anything you say, Honey.”
“Could you please go to the drugstore and get a pregnancy test for me?” Silence.
I could hear Dale jump out of his recliner and rush to our room. His face was white, and his eyes were wide when he met my eyes. “Really? ...” he breathed.
“Well, probably nothing, but it wouldn’t hurt to check—you think?” He nodded dumbly and hurried off.
Later that night, as I stood in front of my church family, I felt a surreal flutter of happiness covering me like angel wings each time I remembered the blue lines on the two tests that I had taken that afternoon. I smiled at Dale sitting in the front row. He looked slightly shell-shocked, but he returned my smile with a trembly-chinned grin.
It seemed we were about to have our own day-by-day anticipation in the coming year. “Three, two, one before you know it…” I whispered.
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