“Who invited Uncle Jasper to Christmas dinner?”
I looked down to see who had spoken, tugging on my skirt as he did. “Now Timothy, that’s no way to speak of your uncle.”
Timothy shoved one of his thumbs in his mouth and proceeded to talk around it, “My mommy says Uncle Jasper is a nuisance who needs to stop playing around and join the progressives.”
My eyes widened. “My, those are very big words, for you and your mother both. Your uncle is a very nice man. He celebrates the true spirit of Christmas.”
Dinner bells rang out from the dining room, tinkling lightly. Then pealed the bells more loud and deep. “Dinnertime” said Cousin Martha.
I led Timothy to his mother at one end of the table and sat down at the other. My mouth watered at the scent of the gorgeous ham at the center of the table. My brother, James, passed me each dish of food in turn. I took a bit of everything—ham, potatoes, green beans, duck, buttered rolls—before passing it along to my sister, Gloria. A smile forced its way to my lips.
“Jasper, I believe you said you wanted to do the blessing this year?” said Cousin Martha.
Uncle Jasper smoothed his thin mustache and stood. “Joy to the world! The lord is come. It is Christmas yet again. Thank you Lord for that first Christmas, so many years ago. Behold him come, offspring of a Virgin’s womb. Veiled in flesh the Godhead see. Hail the incarnate Deity, pleased as man with man to dwell, Jesus, our Emmanuel.
“Be near me, Lord Jesus, I ask Thee to stay, close by me for ever and love me, I pray. Bless all the dear children in Thy tender care and take us to Heaven to live with Thee there.”
I heard Timothy’s mother try to hide a scoff under her breath.
Uncle Jasper seemed to respond in turn, beginning to sing his blessing. “Peace on earth, goodwill to men, from heaven’s all-gracious King. He rules the world with truth and grace, and makes the nations prove the glories of his righteousness, and wonders of his love. And wonders of his love. Son of God, love’s pure light. Radiant beams from thy holy face with the dawn of redeeming grace, Jesus, Lord at thy birth.”
Uncle Jasper’s words went solemn. “Now we all know what happened to your son, oh Lord. And we know that some today don’t care about his great sacrifice. But I have one more carol for you, Lord. God is not dead, nor doth He sleep; the wrong shall fail, the right prevail, with peace on earth, goodwill to men. We may be forgetting what Christmas is all about, but the angels proclaim it again and again: peace on earth, goodwill to men. Amen.” He sat down and began to eat, without another word.
Timothy’s mother was burying her face in her hands, sobbing. I saw her through my own tears.