The house was filled with the joy of Christmas, as everyone moved in and out of the kitchen. Those in their forties seemed to take over the major traffic patterns, while setting the table and filling the oven with yet another dish. Anyone under the age of twenty-two was bundled and sent out to the backyard with sleds and saucers until the meal was ready.
The Christmas Eve dinner preparation was more important this year with the passing of Grandma Kreger. She was the key focal point that continually brought the family together, hoping every year that the bond of love would be birthed within each soul. She longed for her kids to embrace the true meaning of Christmas, but busy schedules and unfulfilled dreams delayed the miracle.
The dog getting underfoot and yelping made Grandpa Kreger realize it was time to meander out and watch the grandkids from the back porch steps. He couldn’t remember such commotion in his home before. It was as if his loving wife Sarah had gifted him with peace each year by organizing the chaos away from his presence.
Grandpa Kreger put on his vintage flannel coat and covered it with the space age jacket his kids gave him the year before. He lit his cherry wood pipe and headed outside.
The snowflakes were lightly drifting down, covering the ground with a light dusting. The freshly fallen snow reflected the luminous moon breaking through the clouds. It was brighter than the old barn light Grandpa Kreger used on the midnight sledding runs during his earlier years. He sat down on the porch steps and watched as each grandchild slid down the hill into the neighbor’s yard.
The cold crisp air turned each grandchild’s breath into a cloud of smoke similar to the small puffs coming from Grandpa Kreger’s pipe. The memorable aroma of a spicy well-worn leather scent rose with each puff. A couple of the younger grandkids watched closely and exhaled with a wreath of clouds encompassing their heads. While each requested that he quit smoking over the years, they knew the smell to be that of their grandpa.
Sharing the hope of Christmas with each grandchild seemed to be Sarah’s job every year, but Grandpa Kreger longed to give it a try. He called a couple of the kids over to him and fidgeted around attempting to figure out where to start.
Caileigh, a curious eight year-old, broke the silence while pointing at a bright star, “Grandpa, can you tell me the story of the shepherd’s star?”
“I’ve never been able to share stories like your grandmother, but I will tell you that the bright star you are pointing to isn’t a star at all.”
“What is it then, Grandpa?” asked Caileigh.
“It’s the planet Mars,” chuckled Grandpa Kreger. “Did you know that when I was a young guy back on Christmas Eve in 1968, we had three astronauts orbiting the moon?”
“What were they doing?” asked Caileigh.
“As they experienced the lunar sunrise on what was their Christmas morning, the crew of the Apollo 8 space mission took turns reading from the book of Genesis over the radio for everyone on earth to hear.”
“Was it the Christmas story, Grandpa?”
“No sweetie, it was the story about how God created the heaven and the earth.”
“I wonder what it would be like reading the Bible in space,” marveled little Jeffrey.
“I’m sure it would bring you the same hope as down here on earth,” affirmed Grandpa Kreger. “Speaking of hope, the space program was started to help bring hope to our country during a time when people could barely afford to live.”
“Did it work,” asked Jeffrey.
“It did,” said Grandpa Kreger. “In fact, it created so much hope that the space program documented over 1,400 inventions that made our lives easier.”
“Like what,” asserted Caileigh.
“Like all the equipment that allowed Grandma to spend the last three years with us,” exclaimed Grandpa Kreger. “Even this jacket that’s keeping me warm came from the space program.”
Jeffrey boldly placed his hand on Grandpa Kreger’s shoulder and insisted, “We should go into space and bring hope to the poor people losing their jobs and houses today.”
Caileigh added, “Yeah, and we could read from the Bible for the entire world to hear on HDTV and the Internet.”
“I’m sorry to say that hope is seldom welcome these days,” Grandpa Kreger’s voice cracked. “I’m afraid you kids will have to find new unique ways to share hope with others.”
“Oh, don’t worry Grandpa,” affirmed Jeffrey. “I’ll just share the magic words that Grandma told me always brings hope to the one listening.”
“Really, what words are those?” inquired Grandpa Kreger.
“Merry Christmas!” shouted Jeffrey.