Paul gathers his glasses and our chosen book, Jesus by Joseph Girzone, and meets me at the dining room table shortly after dinner. “It’s time for our story!” I call to our toddler daughter Hope, who continues playing with the bookend she pulled off her shelf. “Candle time!” I try again, and she comes running.
Her eyes are bright as I light two candles (after retrieving the lighter from her sneaky hand). My husband Paul, known as Baba to our daughter (it’s Chinese, similar to “Papa”), begins reading today’s chapter against the background sound of her trying to blow out the candles until I convince her to “wait until after the story.” When he gets to a particularly interesting sounding word, “dead” from “the Dead Sea,” he has a fourteen-times-over echo well into the next paragraph: “deh? deh! deh. DEH!!!”
Halfway into the reading (which is a whole 2 pages total), she decides the view from my lap isn’t interesting enough, and climbs her way into Baba’s chair where she still can’t see over the table’s edge without being on her knees. Finding that she’s no more able to reach the candles from this location, she squirms down onto the floor and plays with her toy fruit until the chapter is over.
“Time to blow out the candles!” I announce excitedly, and the thrill returns to Hope’s face as she speeds back to the table and hurries up into my lap. We have a competition to see whether she can blow out the candles from her spot in front of them before Baba gets them out from across the table (she can’t) and she waves her hands with wonder in the white smoke barely visible in the now darkened room.
“Jesus brings light even when things seem dark and scary,” I told Hope as we lit the candles, and “Jesus doesn’t go away, but sometimes we can’t see His light” after we blow them out. She repeats His name – “Gee-juh” – the same way she repeats “gentle” when I tell her to use gentle touch instead of (play) hitting. She loves the candles, and tolerates the stories. We all love the quiet of a few extra moments spent together after dinner and before bedtime. This Mama especially loves the twinkling in her eyes created by flickering candles as she tries to blow them out.
What do you love about holiday traditions with your little ones?