Melissa walked into the room and found Colton sound asleep on the couch, wrapped up to his chin in an afghan. “Wake up. It’s time to go.”
Colton stretched. He stood up and towered over his mom with his 6 foot frame. “Huh?” he grunted.
It’s the Christmas Eve Service,” his mom said patiently.
“Do I have to go? They do the very same thing every year. It’s so boring.”
“We’re going as a family….end of story.”
“End of story.”
Six-year-old Tyler bounded down the steps in his footie pajamas. He slid across the hard-wood floor and almost bumped into his big brother. “Colton, it’s almost Christmas!” He jumped up and tried to hit his brother’s outstretched hand, which Colton held just out of reach. Tyler fell to the floor.
Colton stared down at him and said, “Get dressed, Ty. You’re way too old to go to church like that.”
Tyler looked at his mom. Tears collected in his eyes.
“You’re fine, Tyler. Your brother’s jealous because he can’t wear his jammies.”
Tyler wiped his eyes and smiled.
Colton rolled his eyes and said his usual, “Whatever.”
It was a somber trip for the Phillips family this late night. Colton’s attitude seeped into the van and held on tight no matter how much small talk.
The small family filed into the church and sat in their normal Sunday pew. With lights turned down low, people chattered and hugged and wished each other Merry Christmas.
The organ belted out the first Christmassy hymn and soon everyone joyfully started to sing together. Christmas was definitely in the air.
When the clock struck midnight, each person lit small candles and held them as they sang, “Silent Night”. Music was then played softly as the candles were blown out and everyone left the sanctuary.
The Phillips family walked outside. Melissa held Tyler’s hand and Colton walked beside his father. “Dad? Sorry about earlier.”
Joe put his arm around him. “You need to apologize to your mom and brother. Meanwhile,” Joe reached into his pocket and pulled out the car keys. He handed them to Colton.
“I’m grounded, remember?”
“Son, I’ll let you experience some early morning Christmas grace.”
“Cool. Thanks, Dad.”
Colton slipped into the front seat of the van, adjusted the mirrors, and put on his seat belt. He looked over his shoulder as he backed out of the parking space. He could see Tyler’s nose pressed against the cold window. “Dad, can I take the long way home?”
“That’s a good idea.”
Colton drove up and down the streets while Tyler pointed out especially pretty Christmas lights, but soon he melted into his mom’s side. He could hardly keep his eyes open. “Colton, can you go ahead and get us home? Your brother’s about gone.”
Colton pulled into their driveway. Joe took the sleepy boy out of his booster seat and carried him across the yard. “Daddy,” Tyler said sleepily.
Tyler pointed up. They all stopped and looked. The sky was clear and thousands of stars shone brightly. “Those are much better than all the Christmas lights we saw tonight,” Tyler mumbled sleepily.
Joe hugged Tyler tight to his chest. Melissa put her arm around Colton. “Tyler, look up there.” Colton pointed to the brightest star in the sky. “Think that’s the same star that lit the way to Jesus when He was born?”
“I think so,” said Tyler.
Melissa whispered to Colton then said, “Be right back. Don’t leave, Joe.”
Soon, Colton came outside with three lawn chairs and a big thick blanket. They huddled together on that chilly Christmas morning and looked at the stars. Melissa brought out steamy mugs of hot chocolate topped with mini marshmallows. Joe blew into his cup and marshmallows flew at Colton.
“Hey, our first snow, Dad,” Colton joked.
Tyler cuddled up to Melissa. In a sweet soprano voice, he began to sing. He started almost at a whisper and then he got louder. Very soon the three others joined in, not caring if anyone in the neighborhood heard them.
“Silent Night, Holy Night
All is calm, all is bright…”
The four sat underneath a canopy of God’s glorious decorations: a majestic twinkling Christmas sky.
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