Thursday, December 19, 2013

Christmas Memories-1986: The Visitors

Over a quarter of a century ago, I entertained angels. Well, it's a stretch, but they might have been. My at-the-time-husband-who-is-now-my-ex-husband  brought home a friend on Christmas Eve. His name was Wild Ricky. I don't think I ever knew Wild Ricky's last name. He had long, stringy dirty blond hair and tattoos before they were fashionable. He climbed trees for a living (often without safety equipment). He was like a monkey---a wild monkey. He was from the deep south; Georgia, to be specific. He looked tough, but was soft-spoken, with a thick deep south accent and had a heart of gold. Wild Ricky had invited his girlfriend up from Georgia for Christmas, and this girlfriend happened to have a 10-year old son named Brandon. 

I remember this very well, because Christmas Eve was Brandon's birthday, and they walked in with the guys. They were both so excited to celebrate his birthday! Brandon's mom had brought presents, and she had even gotten a cake from the bakery, with "Happy Birthday Brandon" written on it. (You can see just how old this picture is by looking at the gift he was so excited about-it's an I.D. bracelet. Remember those? (I think it took awhile for the "out-of-style" memo to reach the deep south. I remember thinking, "Hmm," I thought, "those went out of style in the mid-seventies." This was the mid-eighties).

I was a new, and very young mom, and my son was not quite 3 years old. 
I was at first, surprised at having unannounced visitors, then angry at being inconvenienced on Christmas Eve with this birthday party. But I was a 26 year old kid who hadn’t learned to speak her mind yet, so I said nothing.  I figured that we’d have cake, sing “Happy Birthday,” watch Brandon open a few gifts and these people would be on their way. However, the guys announced that they had some last minute shopping to do, so off they went and left me alone with Brandon and his mom! 

The guys, being guys, lost track of time. I entertained these strangers for several hours. I can’t imagine what Brandon’s mom and I talked about.  I was a young up-and-coming-Bernardsville-mom, and she was…well, a not-as-young-as-I-Wild-Ricky-kind-of-girl. 

The thing about photographs is that you can look at them years later with a different perspective because the emotion is not there, as it was when the picture was taken.  All of these years, whenever I’d looked at these pictures, it was all about me--- “How could MY husband have brought those people – strangers – into MY home on Christmas Eve, without asking ME?  How could he expect ME to entertain them, and didn’t he realize that he was imposing on ME and disrupting MY Christmas Eve?”  But when I came across this picture a few weeks ago, I realized that I had never thought about the situation from THEIR perspective.

The very person they came to spend Christmas with left them to go to a party-left them to spend Brandon’s birthday in the company of strangers in a strange place.  And they made the best of it. 
Then, it occurred to me that there was another little boy who once spent his birthday in the company of strangers in a strange place.  He would not remember it, because it was the day of his birth, but his parents most certainly would.  His name was Jesus and His birthday is the one we celebrate every Christmas. 

That little boy grew up and thirty-something years later preached these words to his followers – I was hungry and you gave me something to eat.  I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink.  I WAS A STRANGER AND YOU INVITED ME IN…whatever you did to the least of these brothers of mine, you did to Me. (Matthew 25:35)

Brandon will be 37 this year-a few years older than Jesus was when He spoke those words. I’m so thankful that I was a 26 year old kid who didn’t know how to speak her mind.  What a tragedy it would have been to not invite them in.

Maybe God really did send them to me, and it took me 27 years to figure it out! We are told in Hebrews, Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing, some people have entertained angels without knowing it (Hebrews 13:2). We really never know who we are entertaining, do we?

Happy birthday, Brandon, wherever you are. 

Blessings Along the Path,

Song(s) of the Day
Perfect Love (Darlene Zschech)
Entertaining Angels (Newsboys)

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