Come Up for Air

>> Tuesday, December 6, 2011

As I walked on the elevated track above the swimming pool, I noticed the scenario unfolding below me. A father was apparently trying to teach his young son – three or four years old – to swim. Christopher was the name he was yelling along with his instructions. Holding the buttocks of his son under his armpit … with the body facing downward … he would scream “breathe” and then plunge Chris’s face under water … and hold it there. The young boy’s arms would flail, but he was no match against his father. When dad decided Chris had been underwater long enough, he would twist his face to the air. Chris was crying and begging his dad to stop.  

In the other end of the pool was a lady and a little girl … and the lady was singing Jesus Love Me. I assumed this was the mother and sister of Chris. The lady was totally ignoring the abuse.  

I, however, could not. I yelled at the man to stop. He continued. When he allowed Chris to come up for air, I yelled, “Chris, he has no right to treat you that way … and I care.” I wanted him to know someone noticed … and that the treatment at the hand of his father was not acceptable.  

Long story short: I reported it to the front desk … they called the police … he was arrested … I wrote a written, detailed report … he was banned from the gym.  

I used to feel like Chris at Christmas time. I was bound by the rules and regulations of what it meant to be proper. Decorations needed to look a certain way … and put up by a certain time. Gifts were to be purchased for more than just family … anyone who might have talked to you in the past year was eligible. The wrappings were to look like something out of a magazine. The Christmas cards … elegant and pricey … were to be mailed in time to be received before Christmas … and you got extra points for being the first one. Each one had to be handwritten … with a lovely comment inside. Some blank cards were set aside to take care of those people who sent you a card and you hadn’t sent them one.  

Every time I tried to come up for air, I was plunged back under.  

Christmas no longer has me in its clutches. When I see a gift I think someone might like … even though it is June … I purchase it and give it to them … in June. My decorations have a central theme … the nativity. I add a few more pieces each year. I still send some Christmas cards, but it is no longer a competition.  

Come up for air … breathe … and savor the birth we celebrate.  

“…..but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David!” Luke 2:10-11 (NLT)


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