Christmas Brother

By Sherrie Johnson

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    There was snow on the ground and decorations were everywhere. Christmas music played on the radio and people smiled and laughed and shouted, “Merry Christmas!” But this year there was an added excitement for Breana, who told her mother, “I can’t wait!”

    Mother laughed. “You say that every year, but somehow you do.”

    “But this year is different!” Breana exclaimed. “For nine long years I’ve wanted to be a sister, and now I’m going to be one for Christmas.”

    “The baby could come after Christmas,” Mother teased.

    “No,” Breana said confidently. “This Christmas I will finally be somebody’s sister.”

    Mother hugged Breana to her. “I’m glad you’re so happy.”

    “I’ll feed the baby and change its diapers. I’ll be the best babytender in the whole world!” Breana promised.

    “I’m sure you will be.” Mother smoothed her daughter’s curly black hair as she walked over to the kitchen sink to start dinner.

    Breana sat down at the table and watched. She remembered how graceful and slender her mother used to be. Now she was big and moved awkwardly about the room. Sometimes she stopped her work and rubbed her back.

    Breana’s eyes drifted until they settled on the paper-sculpture nativity scene she and Mother had carefully cut out and arranged on the buffet. The figure of Joseph was hovering over Mary as though trying to protect her. Mary was sitting on piled hay with the baby Jesus held tenderly in her arms. The shepherds seemed to be afraid to come too close, yet strained to be as close as they dared. Breana almost thought she could see them moving slightly forward to get a better look at the precious baby.

    “Do you want salad with dinner?” Mother interrupted Breana’s thoughts.

    “That sounds good,” Breana answered. “Can I help you make it?”

    “Of course,” Mother answered.

    Breana walked to her mother’s side and began tearing apart the lettuce.

    “Just four more days,” Mother said. “Do you really think the baby will get there before Christmas?”

    Breana’s eyes turned again to the nativity scene. There was something tender about the way Mary looked at her baby.

    “Yes,” Breana said slowly. “I’m sure of it.”

    “I hope you’re right.” Mother sighed and rubbed her back again.

    “Are you all right?” Breana asked.

    “Yes,” Mother answered. “I just feel tired.”

    “You go sit down,” Breana said. “I can finish the salad.”

    Slowly Mother walked over to the kitchen table. Breana watched as she awkwardly braced herself against the table and then slowly lowered herself into a chair. She must hurt, Breana thought and once more looked at the paper statue of Mary.

    “How do you think she ever rode the donkey all that way?” Breana asked.

    “Who?” Mother asked.

    “Mary—before Jesus was born. How could she have traveled all the way to Bethlehem on a donkey? She must have been big and uncomfortable too.”

    A tear appeared in the corner of Mother’s eye. “I’m sure it was hard for her,” Mother answered. And she, too, stared at the nativity scene.

    For a long moment neither said anything. The tear in mother’s eye slid onto her cheek and she wiped it off with her hand.

    “I feel so close to Mary and Joseph and the Christ child,” Breana said. “Closer than I’ve ever felt before. I just know this is going to be the best Christmas ever.”

    It was nearly morning when Breana’s father tiptoed into her room and gently shook her shoulder until she opened her eyes.

    “Breana, you’re a sister!”

    “What?” Breana jerked around and rubbed the sleep from her eyes.

    “You have a brand new baby brother.”

    Breana threw her arms around her father’s neck. “At last! I’m finally a sister,” she said. “How’s Mother? When can they come home from the hospital? What are we going to name the baby?”

    “Wait, Breana, honey. One question at a time. Your mother is fine and the doctor said she could come home Christmas Eve day.”

    “That’s wonderful!” Breana exclaimed.

    “And your mother said to ask you for suggestions about names,” Father said.

    “That’s easy,” Breana responded. “I think we should name him Joseph.”

    Father nodded his head thoughtfully.

    “That’s a good suggestion. And now, young lady, back to sleep.”

    Father left the room, but Breana was too excited to sleep. Finally she tiptoed into the kitchen and turned on the small light over the stove. It seemed to give the nativity scene on the buffet a luminous and dreamy appearance. “I waited so very long to be a sister,” she whispered. “But the whole world waited for this baby.”

    Breana walked over to the nativity and traced the outline of the tiny baby with her finger and stared once more into Mary’s face. “You must have been the first person on earth to love Jesus,” she said softly. “And I’m going to be one of the first people on earth to love our new baby.”

    She ran her finger once more over the blue blanket (see Luke 2:7) and as she did a thought struck her, almost jolted her. Breana smiled. “All the time I was waiting to become a sister, but I already was one and didn’t realize it!” she murmured.

    Breana looked once more at the baby in Mary’s arms, then turned out the light and went back to bed.

    The next two days seemed as though they would never end, but at last it was Christmas Eve day. Father and Breana went to the hospital to get Mother and the baby.

    Mother kissed Breana’s cheek and asked, “Do you want to hold Joseph?”

    “Joseph?” Breana cried.

    “What better name for a Christmas brother!” Father said, smiling.

    Breana held out her arms and Mother gently placed the baby in them. A warm and loving feeling filled Breana. “It feels so good to be a sister,” she said. Carefully she pulled the blanket back from Joseph’s red pudgy face and smiled at him.

    “He’s beautiful!” she exclaimed. Already she knew she loved him. Already she felt that she had known him forever and ever.

    Suddenly she was aware of “Silent Night” being played on the car radio. She remembered the nativity scene and Mary holding her baby, a baby who was also her Brother! They would celebrate His birthday tomorrow.