“Hold still!” Grandma commanded as she continued to adjust Oliver’s costume.
“I can’t help it!” Oliver argued back. “This costume is itchy!”
It was Friday night, five days until Christmas and my brothers were to be in my grandma and grandpa’s church Christmas play. It was the Nativity story. Benny was a sheep and Oliver was a shepherd.
Their costumes were homemade and Grandma was finishing up Oliver’s shepherd costume. All afternoon Grandma had been fussing over them, which of course was driving the twins crazy!
Earlier that afternoon, Grandma had made Benny help her glue cotton balls on a white shirt for his sheep costume, insisted they both take a shower, and now she was making sure the belt was tied just right on Oliver’s costume.
“Are you done yet?” Oliver asked impatiently.
“Almost,” Grandma replied. “There!” She took a step back to examine her work. “Now you are a star fit for the stage!”
“The only thing I am fit for is a stomachache! You tied the belt too tight. I feel like I am going to be sick!”
So far I had just been sitting on the couch reading and watching all the commotion take place, but Oliver’s pathetic face and remark made me laugh. I had never seen him look so desperate to be out of a situation, except for the incident with the pretzels on the plane last week! Mother didn’t usually like it when I laughed at the twin’s “jokes,” especially when I knew they were being ornery, but that one was funny.
Just then, Benny poked his head out from around the hallway corner, “Grandma?”
“Yes, Benny?” Grandma answered back as she was now quickly fixing Oliver’s costume.
“All of my cotton balls are falling off, and I can’t find the black pants you bought me!”
I closed my book and got off the couch. “I’ll help you,” I told Benny. Benny smiled and took my hand.
“Thank you, dear!” Grandma said looking relieved. She walked over to the kitchen table and handed me the hot glue gun. “Here, try this again!”
Benny and I walked back to the bedroom and began to rummage through his clothes, with the hope of maybe finding his black pants.
“Are you ready for tonight?” I asked. “I am excited to see what you two have been working on!”
I looked up from my pile of clothes and looked at him. “What’s wrong? You sound sad.”
Benny looked up from his pile of clothes and for once I noticed what big blue eyes he had.
“I wish mom and dad were here.” He looked as if he could cry, which triggered my own tears and emotions to well up. I quickly swallowed them down and gave a small smile.
“I miss them too, but we can’t let them not being here get us down. They love us and would want us to have a good Christmas, right?”
Benny nodded his head and smiled.
A moment passed and then Benny suddenly said, “I’m not afraid, Emi.”
For a second his remark threw me off. He had said it as if he were not a little boy looking for his pants anymore, but rather a full grown man who was ready to go to war. My emotions once again began to rise in me. I started to become angry and disgusted as I asked, “What do you mean? What are you not afraid of?”
“I am not afraid of tonight and I am not afraid of mom and dad leaving each other.” Benny said it all so simply, as if he had decided a long time ago that he was not going to be afraid, and that this was just how things were going to be.
I could hardly believe my ears. My emotions were now all over the place. I was angry that my parents had caused my little brother to think such sad and terrible things. I was jealous of this little to no fear my brother had about the future, and I was confused as to why he was not afraid. Where did he get his courage from?!
“Why aren’t you afraid?” I asked, deciding to address it.
Benny pulled out his black pants from his pile of clothes and leaned in closer to me. Almost in a whisper he said, “Because I sing with the angels.”
For a moment I thought he was talking about the older kids in the play, who sing in the choir, but then looking at his serious little face I realized he must have been talking about real angels.
“What do you mean? When?” I demanded.
Now I was even more disgusted and shocked! Of course my little brother had had an experience with God and had received peace about mom and dad. So, where was my sign?! Where was my peace?!
“All the time,” Benny answered back.
By now Benny had his black pants on and we were gluing on the last of his cotton balls.
“If it happens all the time, Ben, then how come I don’t see the angels when you practice here at home?” I asked, trying not to take my anger out on him.
Benny stood up, took the hot glue gun from my hand since we were done gluing, and then stated simply, “Because you do not look for them.”
With that, Benny put on his shoes and ran down the hallway to where Grandma was calling for him.
To be continued…(Matthew 13:14-17)