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Treasure time with children this Christmascomment (0)

December 8, 2005

By Betty Baggott

During this Christmas season, my thoughts race back to Christmas years ago when our family drove to a campus of the Georgia Baptist Children’s Homes and Family Ministries to pick up our three visitors for the holidays: Doug, 6; Leslie, 7; and Katrina, 8.

I am reminded of the prayer I said that morning before we left.

“Lord, the next few days can be very trying. With my children plus three more, I’ve got to have all the help I can get. Now, Lord, I’m going to turn the whole situation over to you. I do so want these little ones to have a good time. Just help me to be a good substitute mother.”

God answered my prayer and then some. I was to learn many lessons during those four days — lessons about the true meaning of Christmas, love, patience, giving of your time, priorities and on and on the list goes.

My adventure began when we arrived home at 5:30 p.m., and it was time to dress for the Wednesday night activities at the church.

“Take your time children,” I said. “It won’t hurt if we are a little late. I’ll put on some music so you can enjoy dressing more.”

Generally I would be rushing my own Cheryl to hurry and get dressed and no doubt would have added she should have started sooner. But thinking back, I remember I wanted these children to enjoy every minute in our home, even the necessary tasks like dressing.

These children were to be with us only four days, and I was trying to go the second mile in creating a happy mood for them. Was I trying harder than I ordinarily did for my own precious children seven days a week?

After the church panic hour had ended, my husband had a deacons meeting, so it fell my lot to see that these kids went to bed. I had always tried to spend some time reading or talking to my three before they fell asleep. But this boisterous crew could have cared less for a story. Pillows began to fly. Those yelling kids seemed to have saved all their energy for the 9:30 hour.

“Attention! Line up!” I commanded with mock sternness. “Stand straight and tall.”

We marched round and round — through the dining room, den and back into the living room. The children were having a ball. I tried to think when I had done this with my children. How many times one of my kids had balked at reading, would not keep still, would tickle me or hide under the cover. True, I had always looked forward to our time together, but maybe they would have liked to choose what we would do. I was too busy to listen, especially at Christmas.

When they said their prayers, Leslie prayed something like this.

“Thank you, God, for Mrs. Baggott, and thank you that she let us march.”

I remember we went to the park. The kids chose to climb the hills and explore the woods.

“I can’t get up.” Katrina cried. “The hill’s too high and I will fall.”

The rest of us had reached the top with no trouble at all. It was funny to Doug, Leslie and Cheryl that they had conquered the climb only to leave Katrina at the bottom screaming for help. I wondered how many times she had cried in her life.

I called out to her. “Katrina you will have a lot of hills to climb in life. If you cry about every one, you will have a hard time. Don’t cry. Just climb harder. I’ll meet you halfway.”

She clutched my hand and together we reached the top.

In this busy time of the year, I sit here reflecting back on all the words I heard during those four days of discovery in my home.

Words like “I wanna sit by Mrs. Baggott at the table,” “When we go downtown tomorrow, can I hold your hand?,” “Let’s go back to the park. I like climbing those hills” and “You are a funny lady.”

I discovered a lot about myself, and some of it was not good. I needed to spend more quality time with my children. I needed to laugh and cut up more, not be too rigid and demanding in my ways. I was reminded of the importance of every single moment that is spent with children. Every word teaches something. Every act creates in the eyes of our children an image of the kind of person we are. They may forget many things we tell them, but they never forget the life we live.

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