Once upon a time, when two of my nieces, Ashley and her sister Sheri Lynn, were pregnant at the same time. Ashley was expecting her first child, Sheri Lynn her second. My niece Sheri Lynn’s little girl is my great-niece, Isabella and Isabella was just 3 years old when she and her pregnant mother, Sheri Lynn, travelled from Vancouver to Toronto, so that Isabella could be the flower-girl at my wedding. Before they arrived, the story was already being told of Isabella’s response to the news that her Aunt Ashley was going to have a baby and that that baby was going to be a little boy. Isabella proudly announced that her Aunt Ashley’s little boy was going to be her new little brother. Well-meaning adults tried to correct Isabella by gently telling her that her Aunt Ashley’s little boy would in fact be her cousin and not her brother. But Isabella insisted that he would be her brother.
Various family members tried to convince Isabella that the baby her Mommy was expecting would be her little brother or her little sister, but the little boy which her Aunt Ashley was expecting would be her cousin. But no matter how hard or how often they tried to explain it, Isabella went on insisting that her Aunt Ashley’s new baby would be her new, baby brother. One day, while they were visiting, I snapped up the opportunity to look after Isabella while her mother did some sightseeing. I had some errands to run and it was marvellous to have a little 3-year-old along to help me. It gave me the opportunity to do some great-auntie stuff. And that’s how Isabella and I ended up in the local Christian bookstore trying to find a lightweight nativity set which she would be able to carry home with her on the airplane. I wanted Isabella to learn to tell the greatest story ever told in her own unique way.
After a lot of negotiating, we settled on a rather large cloth nativity set which folded up into a stable which doubled as a carrier-bag for all the various characters and animals. Once we’d purchased the Nativity set and one or two items which only a 3-year-old could convince me were necessary, we headed out to the car so that Isabella could make fun of my feeble attempts to figure out just how her car-seat worked. Isabella insisted that we open up the nativity set right away, so that she could play with it on the way home. So, as she got herself up into her car seat, I struggled to remove Mary, Joseph, a shepherd, some wise guys, a sheep, a donkey, a cow and a little swaddled baby, from the confines of some pretty horrendous 21st century packaging. I don’t know who comes up with such impossible packages. I can never open them without problems. Mary and Joseph almost didn’t make it and Isabella had to remind her dear old auntie Dawn that there are just some words that good girls are not supposed to say, or her Mommy would get really mad.
Suitably chastened, I rescued Mary and Joseph and suggested that we put all the characters into the cloth stable until we got home. Isabella reluctantly agreed to put all the characters away, except for the small swaddled baby. Compromise is everything when you are dealing with a 3-year-old. So, I warned Isabella not to lose the baby Jesus, and I got into the front seat and we headed for home.
On the way, Isabella told me her version of the greatest story ever told, which involved Santa Claus following a star, checking his list twice, and giving Jesus lots of gold because he was poor and needed some new clothes because his Mom didn’t pack enough in his suitcase when they went to the airport. So, Joseph was going to go to the store and buy new pyjamas for Jesus. So, everyone better be good, and watch out or else they won’t get any new pyjamas for Christmas.
Now, clearly, I had some work to do, but just as I was about to teach Isabella the greatest story ever told, she asked me if Auntie Ashley would have her new baby in time for Christmas. I told her that she would indeed have her new baby for Christmas. Isabella then told me that she was going to buy some new pyjamas for her new baby brother. I was about to remind her that her Auntie Ashley’s new little baby would be her new baby cousin and not her new baby brother, when Isabella announced that she has two little brothers. Auntie Ashley’s little boy and baby Jesus are her brothers. Who in their right mind would dare argue with that logic?
The truth is that Jesus is indeed Isabella’s brother and so of course her Auntie Ashley’s little boy is also her little brother as well. As I was ruminating over this gospel truth, Isabella announced that “all little boys are my brothers, and all little girls are my sisters.” Out of the mouths of babes.
This year, may we all remember that all baby boys are our brothers and all baby girls are our sisters. They all need pyjamas, they all need to be nurtured and to be loved. They need to be taught and to be treasured, to be freed and to be empowered and they are all looking to us, their big sisters and their big brothers, to help make LOVE happen over and over and over again. May the HOLY ONE who IS LOVE continue to live and move in, with, through, and beyond you and yours during these challenging times. Shalom, dear ones. Shalom.