Stealing Jesus

With Christmas mere steps away, I thought I’d share a story I posted last year with a dedication to my sister, Cora. She’s a major reason the holidays and reminiscing are so joyous and, in this example, hilarious. 😉

*****

Regardless of how we spend them, the holidays draw up memories—some wonderful, some we’d rather forget and some that just keep getting funnier…

Santa/snow traffic jam in my parents' backyard

Santa’s cryogenic facelift

I don’t recall many details about the day I stole Jesus. But since I was in high school, it was probably like most winter days. I awoke to the sound of my mother’s voice, munched on toast in a fog then slipped on the ice en route to catch the bus. *winces from phantom butt ache* Come dusk, after more fogginess known as classes, I went to my friend Andrea’s house to meet with my Odyssey of the Mind team. (If you’re unfamiliar with OM, think math team for creatives.) There, I woke up.

Beck’s “I’m a loser baby…” hummed from the stereo while we dined on doughnuts and M&Ms in preparation for the evening’s events. Tonight we would do a scavenger hunt, Andrea explained. In O.M., making practice activities as difficult as possible was key, particularly since our sights were set on state competition and beyond. Toward this end, Baby Jesus appeared on my search list.

Numerous of my teammates were atheists, the equivalent of devil worship in the eyes of my strict, Baptist grandparents. I’d spent the summer organizing benefit concerts to raise awareness about child abuse, for which I was made co-recipient of the Minnesota Peace Prize. In other words, I was a goody-goody supreme, not someone predictably comfy with Jesus-nabbing.

To worsen matters, I couldn’t yet drive and the only Jesus in the neighborhood was real, and not in a Second Coming type way. Mary and Joseph’s breath made frozen white puffs in the air and the little tyke in the manger wasn’t plastic.

Definitely out of the question...

Definitely out of the question…

Crap, I thought, unable to even think cuss words yet, much less state them. Then I had an idea. I’d call a friend, hitch a ride to my house and borrow the plastic, light-up Jesus from the nativity scene in the yard. My family was asleep, I figured; no one would miss him for a few hours. And besides, couldn’t the little dude use some respite? As far as I knew, he hadn’t even rested on a Sunday.

The call, ride and borrow went smoothly. With the mission accomplished, I returned to Andrea’s house. The gang fell speechless as I presented every item on my list, including the almighty savior. Sure, I’d found a creative solution—one of the O.M. pillars. But far more remarkable was the fact that I, Ms. Goody Two Shoes, stole him, presumably from a stranger’s yard. And seemed not only fine with it, but pleased.

Hours later, exhausted and high from sugar, creative tricks and camaraderie, we called it a night and a teammate drove me home.

The next morning I woke to sounds best suited to nightmares. Muffled crying. Serious voices. Something terribly wrong. I jolted upright: Cora? Listening closer, I had no doubt. My youngest sister was upset. Really upset. Before I could rush downstairs to soothe her, she said something I’ll never forget: “But Mom, why would someone steal Baby Jesus?”

The word crap no longer seemed strong enough. @$%#! I forgot Jesus!

I snuck into my parents’ room and phoned Andrea then held my breath as she searched to no avail: Jesus wasn’t there. @#$@#$#&$#@$!!!

I sat paralyzed in my room, scrambling for what to do. My parents’ angst-filled voices echoed through the hallway, their disappointment surely due more to Cora’s heartache than the missing figure. What my team didn’t know was that amidst my recent good-doings, I’d been picked up by the cops (for skipping class with a friend, leading our parents to believe we’d been abducted) and gotten in trouble for other…*clears throat* …things. Seeing my sisters’ sad faces as the cop car pulled into the driveway that day had been too much. I couldn’t disappoint Cor, or any of them, again.

I spent the day working up the courage to confess while the term “finding Christ” took on a whole new meaning.

That night, still Jesus-less and lost for an alternate plan, I heard my mom and Cor praying for the bad person who took him.

Tomorrow, I decided. I would spill everything tomorrow.

I woke the next morning to brighter sounds. Sing song chatter. Laughter. Cora’s voice, now chipper: “It’s a Christmas miracle!”

Tears filled my eyes once I realized what had happened. The teammate who’d driven me home from Andrea’s had tucked baby Jesus back in his bed. My sister’s joy almost made the ordeal worthwhile.

Deeming my shame and frustration punishment enough, and not wishing to taint my sister’s “miracle” or opinion of me, I kept the truth to myself until last year when my dear husband outed me. I’m glad he did, as the laughter it’s brought up since is a near holiday in itself.

That Christmas, plug-in Jesus shed light on a few things. While the truth may set us free, happy outcomes sometimes pan out regardless. Pausing to think/panic may enhance those results. And perhaps the ‘good’ in Goody Two Shoes speaks solely of her intentions, and her walk isn’t pristine, but creative.

*****

So, how about you? Steal any religious icons lately? Any holiday hilarity to share? Do tell. I adore hearing from you, HONEST. 😉

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32 Comments

  1. Love the story and how it is written.
    One funny thing I can share is nearly falling from a 30ft roof whilst siliconing christmas lights to the roof. My ex-mother-in laws house, ungrateful shits didn’t comprehend how much of a risk it was. But they were happy to keep all the money for the prize they won for the best house in the town, only to feed the poker machines…Ah the tales of Christmas past, best left there I guess.

    Actually there is a bit more, when I was 13 I got a few chocolates for Christmas and gouged myself on them so much that I spent 3/4 of the day on the big white telephone. Years later this same position was due, not to chocolates, but to over indulging in high quality Scotch on Boxing day when my friends came over…

    As I near 50, Christmas is a really quiet affair with my darling and I, but it is special sharing it with her. 😉

    Reply
  2. H-O-W-L-I-N-G, August I agree with your decision not to “undo” your sister’s Christmas miracle. Quite altruistic of you.

    Atheist? In my family, Catholics were considered heretics. “They worship all those idols,” Mom used to say. My HS Sweetheart was Polish. And, Catholic. Dad invariable asked, “Where does he go to church?” when I had a new beau.

    Rule-breaking Creative Sneakiness became an essential skill when I hit my teens. I hit ye ole’ Encyclopedia* for Intel in advance of The Question. Great news! Poland has a small pocket of Baptists. So, I made him Baptist, and went to the Baptist Church Midnight Mass Prayer service with him on Christmas Eve.

    *My fibs were always well researched and planned for worst-case-scenario. If Dad questioned Polish Baptist, I planned to say, “Well, let’s look it up. Maybe the Encyclopedia will have information on religions in Poland.”

    Reply
    • You crack me up, Gloria! Well researched fibs? (Seems mine come out blurt or squelch style… ;)) I love the presto, change-o “He’s Baptist!” move. Ha! Very well done.

      Reply
  3. August, most of my funny holiday stories revolve around baking, as that’s what the women in my family did from right after Thanksgiving on.

    One of the things we make is called Holly Candy and it’s got quite a bit of green food coloring to make it “holly-ish.” You can always tell who is stealing the Holly Candy because their tongue or fingers turn green.

    My cousin Christy was the master at keeping her tongue and hands green-free. But one year she ate SO much Holly Candy, her poo turned green and scared her to death. She thought she had cancer and ran to get her Aunt Jo (my mom) who was a nurse to come look.

    Can we say, “Busted!”

    Reply
  4. My “holiday hilarity” evolves around the look on people’s faces when they hear my response to the question, “Are you ready for Christmas?” My answer: “It’s not my holiday.” They then want to know, “What do you celebrate?” My reply: “Life. Every day.” Most of them get it. A few are dumbfounded.

    Reply
  5. Rob Ryder

     /  December 13, 2012

    This is a beautiful piece of writing.

    Reply
  6. Not only has this story enlivened your family’s holidays, but now the holidays of your many blog readers. Thank you! I really don’t have anything near the equivalent, except maybe the story of one Thanksgiving when we didn’t have turkey.

    According to Wikipedia, “The countertop microwave oven was first introduced in 1967 by the Amana Corporation, which was acquired in 1965 by Raytheon.” My parents, both scientists and gadget geeks, bought one of the very first ones, and decided to cook the Thanksgiving turkey in it that year. We know now that even today’s fancy microwave ovens DO NOT excel at cooking meat. The story of that Thanksgiving’s “petrified turkey” lived on in my family for years.

    Reply
  7. Some deeds like that are best confessed years later as you found out. Now your family laughs. Back then, who knows? 😉

    Funny story. Enjoyed reading it!

    Reply
  8. mgmillerbooks

     /  December 13, 2012

    Ahahaha! That was a riot. You’ve got to do some comedy someday. But your poor parents. They had a handful with you. And oh yeah, I was also raised Baptist. Hmmm. LOL.

    Once, in Houston, I had too much champagne, stumbled against a live torch at a life-size nativity, and set Mary on fire. Thank goodness my conscientious cousin tackled and rolled her.

    Reply
  9. Too funny! Alas, I have no story to compare. I was so quiet and shy back then it was pitiful. 🙂

    Reply
  10. Hilarious pick-me-up story, perfect cure for the day I’ve been having. Thank you.
    My story isn’t holiday themed, though does follow the good girl amongst deviants theme. Atheists? In highschool I was practically a Satanist. The innocent good girl in this case was a Mormon friend. Along with her and I were three more friends (one female and the other two male for all that might matter). We decided to go shoot off fireworks out in the hills, and somehow someone was able to afford one of those larger mortar looking pieces beyond just the regular bottle rockets and smoke bombs we normally had. Other than a few misguided attempts to make the bottle rockets more interesting, which resulted in no one but myself being shot (though some might claim to have received a good scare), things were progressing nicely and everyone was having a splendid time. Then the mortar comes out. It’s a thick tube with a flat hard base, that you set down on the ground. You lite the fuse of the shell, drop it down the tube, and up it goes seventy to a hundred feet or so in the air, exploding in a shower of multi colored flamey things. We are up on a rock formation, maybe ten to fifteen high…and begin setting off the shells. They look pretty, and all are oooing and ahhing, when either me or one of the other guys gets an idea (there’s some confusion as to just who, being this took place 15 or so years ago). The idea being if we angle the mortar, and shoot diagonally it will, for some reason or another, look neater. Anyone who knows anything about geometry probably has an idea of where this is going…which is where it went, but not for those reasons. We were smart enough to realize something going at an angle isn’t going to get as far UP as something pointed up, so we only gave it a slight angle. We were not smart enough to realize the thing needed to stay flat so the bottom didn’t blow out…So, surprise surprise…the bottom of the mortar blows out, sending sparks and smoke all about me and the other possible idiot (we were the ones holding it steady), and sending the incendiary only about thirty or so feet above us (luckily at least that far AWAY from us too…) before it explodes…sending those beautifully colored flamey things into the surrounding vegetation…which is all sage brush, scrub grass, and weeds…all as dry as kindling. Things after that got a little fuzzy (more so than time should account for), largely because of oxygen deprivation I would imagine, as me and the other guy ran down into the fire to try and stomp it out…it uh, didn’t work. We all made it out alright, though there was a bit of chaos in getting everyone to the car, and I remember our Mormon friend, being absolutely mortified at the idea of not only being amongst a group who started a brush fire, but being INSIDE said brushfire, bolting down the rock formation at full speed, zooming straight past me, and running right into the closed door of the car. I think she left a shoe out there due to that little mishap…

    Reply
  11. I cracked up at “the term ‘finding Christ’ took on a whole new meaning.” Love your story’s happy ending and am glad you gave your sister a reason to believe in miracles.

    Reply
  12. what a hoot. And you’re so kind to keep it to yourself, for your sister’s sake, of course, for all those years. well done. LOL

    Reply
  13. Too funny! I am glad that it all turned out okay and your sister “believed!” Sounds like a storyline for a sit-com!

    Reply
  14. I can remember SO many silly and ridiculous things my brother, sister and I did while growing up. Thank you, for making me think of them. Excuse me, I have to make a few phone calls and see how they’re doing. 🙂

    Reply
  15. Well, my college roommate and I stole a display Christmas tree from a department store one year (decorations included). But we returned it when we got back to school after Christmas break….

    Reply
  16. August, Thank you for this great piece. You made me laugh. I needed that right now. You gave it to me.

    May you and your loved ones enjoy a great holiday season.

    Peace to all of good will (and good will to those that might lack it).

    Reply
  17. My favorite “holiday” prank was when I knew my teenage sister-in-law was having a Halloween sleepover and watching “Halloween”. I dressed up as Michael (knife-wielding and all), listened outside until a very scary moment in the show and flung open the door screaming and holding the knife. I don’t know if I had to be forgiven or was totally cool for making the movie the absolutely scariest.
    Scott

    Reply
  18. “…..while the term “finding Christ” took on a whole new meaning.”

    Priceless!!!

    Reply
  19. Kourtney Heintz

     /  December 17, 2012

    I loved this story last year. And it’s even better the second time around! 🙂

    Reply
  20. Raani York

     /  December 17, 2012

    Hilarious!! I laughed so much! Thanks for sharing August! – And I have to admit: around Christmas I was nearly always a good girl! Too scared to risk the presents. *chuckle* Therefore I’ve got nothing to confess… but I’m sure, sooner or later, you will be able to tickle something out of me. 😉

    Reply
  21. mgedwards

     /  December 18, 2012

    Hilarious story, August! Happy holidays, my friend!

    Reply

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