I want a hippopotamus for Christmas
Only a hippopotamus will do
Yesterday I talked about the struggle Katie and I had our first Christmas together deciding which of our families to spend the holiday with, and the heartache that followed for Katie when we ultimately decided to spend it in Ohio with my folks. But that first Christmas was filled with plenty of joy, and a most memorable enlightenment for me.
It was a day rapidly closing in on Christmas day itself. Our house was decorated with our tree and lights and many other displays that celebrated the upcoming holiday. Katie and I both enjoy music, so when we were at home it wasn’t unusual for Christmas music to be piping throughout the house.
One afternoon as I was watching a football game in the living room, I heard a most unusual sound coming from a back room where Katie was doing some work. Up to that moment, I had heard a collection of Christmas carols that were familiar to me. Even as tuned in to my game, I found myself humming along. But this sound rang out as out of place as the Easter Bunny bringing up the rear of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade.
I got up from my game and moved hesitantly toward the sound. As I got closer, I could hear two little girl voices singing out. One, the artist who had recorded what was now clear to me a song, and two, Katie singing along with a voice she had to be summoning from her kindergarten days. A little girl duet. And both of them kept singing that all they wanted for Christmas was a hippopotamus.
When the song was over, I asked her what on earth she was singing. And I imagine that is pretty close to a direct quote. She informed me it was one of her favorite Christmas songs, one she had loved since she was a little girl. I didn’t tell her, but at that moment her being a little girl didn’t seem so historical.
I bought Katie a hippopotamus that Christmas. And I counted it a blessing that she added to my life a Christmas treat my parents had obviously deprived me of in my youth. Or maybe I was too busy writing Santa letters to take notice of it. Today I count it our family’s greatest blessings that Katie is our boys’ mom, and that she spends countless hours passing on Christmas traditions as well as creating new ones. Not the least of which is the time she spends sharing the story of the birth of Christ. It is a wonder to hear our boys talk about the manger scene and the star in the east. Talk about witnessing the true meaning of Christmas.
Secretly, I also have this vision that one day many years from now – many, many years from now – one of the boys will be belting out a very unfamiliar tune, and one of their wives will come to enquire about the strange sound she is hearing, and they will explain…..