“Grammy Jo, are we having some Christmas today?”
The three and a half-year-old who lives at our house first asked this question about a week after Halloween. None of the adults in the household fully understood what he was asking until the Sunday after Thanksgiving when he helped us set up the tree and decorate.
“Grammy! Papoo!” Tad exclaimed with delight. “We’re having some Christmas!”
Three Christmas decorations captivated him. The first was a giant Hallmark pop up card that folds out into a snowy scene of carolers outside a Victorian home. In order to preserve its fragile beauty, I moved the paper house to the top of the china hutch where Tad can see but not touch it.
The second was the nativity set consisting of only Joseph, Mary, and the Baby Jesus. Thankfully they are sturdily made and unbreakable, so Tad has full access to them. He moves them around the living room and kitchen throughout the day and returns them to the kitchen desk before bedtime each night.
The third captivating decoration was the Christmas tree. When we turned on its lights and Christmas music, Tad crawled into an armchair with his bowl of popcorn and gazed at the tree for almost forty-five minutes–the longest our active grandson has sat still since, well, since ever.
The next morning, he stood in front of the Christmas tree and told his dad he didn’t want to go Auntie Rachel’s. Odd because he usually can’t wait to go to her house for day care.
“Are you worried there won’t be any Christmas when you get home later?” I asked.
“Yes,” he said with little boy solemnity.
“Tad,” I told him, “Christmas will still be here when you get back. And do you know what?”
“Auntie Rachel might be having some Christmas at her house, too.”
“That’s good!” he announced before hurrying to his room to get dressed.
We’ve been having some Christmas every day since the momentous one when we decorated for the season. Every day, we place the paper house on the table for a few minutes and talk about it’s beautifulness. Every day, Tad helps turn on the tree lights and rearranges ornaments. Every day, he gently moves the Christ Child from place to place and sets His mommy and daddy on either side of Him so “Baby Jesus feels safe.”
Some nights we sing Away in the Manger once the wanderings of Baby Jesus and his parents cease. Sometimes we read the Christmas story. Sometimes we sing Silent Night.
This night is Christmas Eve. Our family, in concert with believers around the world, are having some Christmas. Together we are pondering the mystery of our God who came to earth as a helpless Babe.
Born of a virgin in a manger.
Proclaimed by the angels.
Worshipped by poor shepherds and rich wise men.
Fully God and fully man.
Savior to all who believe.
Tonight, I understand a little more of this mystery thanks to our grandson. Tonight, I understand how God came to earth as a helpless Babe, thus making Himself accessible to my three-year-old grandson. To our children with special needs. And to all who realize how much they need to have Christ, who is Christmas, inside them every single day.
“Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy
that will be for all the people.
For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior,
who is Christ the Lord.
And this will be a sign for you:
you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”
Jolene Philo is the author of the Different Dream series for parents of kids with special needs. She speaks at parenting and special needs conferences around the country. The book she is working with Dr. Gary Chapman about using the five love languages in special needs families will be released in August of 2019.