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Jesus Savior Emmanuel Christ: A Modern Christmas Tale of Hope

Lori has been writing fiction since she first caught the writing bug at age nine.

This is a work of fiction. The names of characters and events are purely from the author's imagination. Any similarities to real people and events are coincidental.

Facing My Failure As a Mother

Frank and I told our kids from the beginning that Santa Claus is just a fun, make-believe Christmas legend. It's okay to play along but don't take it too seriously. I further confused them when I told them the real reason for the season is the birth of baby Jesus, Emmanuel, God with us; Christ the Lord; Savior of the world.

"Wait a minute," said my daughter Lucy, "Which is it, Jesus? Savior? Emmanuel? Or Christ?"

Donovan, my oldest, said, "Emmanuel Savior is His middle name and Christ is His last name."

"Savior Emmanuel and Christ are titles," I said. "Jesus is His name. You see Christ means anointed One, Emmanuel means 'God with us,' Savior means He saved us from our sins."

They shrugged. "Can we watch Rudolph tonight?"

Why is Christmas so complicated? I pondered that evening, as I knitted stockings for the fireplace where Santa was sure to find them. I heard Lucy yelling and ran into the family room where the children were watching the Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer DVD I got on sale at Target for five bucks.

"Lucy, what is it, honey?"

She was standing in front of the television with fire in her eyes. I looked and saw poor Rudolph cowering under the taunting of his peers and excluding him from their reindeer games.

"What a bunch of jerks," Lucy said. My precious seven-year-old princess was talking like...gulp, like me when someone cuts me off on the freeway. My face burned with shame.

"Lucy, we don't call names in this house."

"Yeah, only Mom and Dad can say 'jerk," said Donovan, my nine-year-old know it all.

"Mommy, we ought to tell Jesus Savior Emmanuel Christ on them," Lucy said

My snack for that evening was crow and humble pie as I sat the children down and apologized for using the word jerk on the freeway. I told them grown-ups do wrong things too. And I was sorry to them and to God. I read them the Christmas story straight from the Bible. We prayed together, and I put them to bed.

The next day the kids' faces were soft and glowing as we set up the Nativity scene on the coffee table. We sang Away in the Manger. Sacred silence filled the living room. Then Kevin broke into song.

"Santa Clause is coming to town. Santa Clause is coming to town." He swiveled his hips to the rock and roll carol. Pretty soon they were all dancing and singing about Santa.

I went into the bathroom to have a good cry. I was a terrible mother. And my husband was a terrible father. He was working overtime so we could afford a grand mound of gifts for the big day, leaving me alone to convey the real meaning of Christmas to our children. I won't tell you what Frank says on the freeway.

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What a Bunch of Jerks

Holiday School Program

The next day the school had its big holiday program. It was all very exciting.

Kevin's kindergarten class wore Santa hats. They sang Jingle Bells first, ringing their little bells to the beat. They were so cute scratching their shins, singing loudly with enthusiasm off-key. One little girl lifted her dress up over her head. Everyone looked at her mother, smirking. Poor woman. She shriveled like a prune.

The next song stunned me. "Santa Clause is coming to town," they sang, swiveling their hips to Michael Jackson's holiday hit. Parents howled with laughter. Two women next to me threw me a nasty glance. I had no idea what their problem was so I turned to the next act of the day.

Lucy and the rest of the second graders wore construction paper reindeer antlers, askew on their heads and red rubber noses. They sang Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer with exuberance. When they got to the part where Rudolph was being bullied by the other reindeer, I saw Lucy's face grow angry. She turned to the little boy next to her who was picking his nose with vigor and saw her mouth form the word "jerk." Suddenly our eyes met and she shrunk in shame. I blew her a kiss and showed praying hands. She nodded.

Donovan's fourth-grade class sang Frosty the Snowman. Donovan, being a bit on the round side, wore the snowman costume. He cried that morning because no one would know it was him and he felt left out. I promised I would tell everyone proudly, "That's my son Donovan playing Frosty." Their reenactment of the Snowman story was endearing enough, but I was about to gag on the holiday paganism.