Every year, our parents had the inenviable task of containing the excitement of five children on Christmas Eve. They tried all kinds of diversions – arts and crafts, painting, reading, singing, but nothing held our interest for longer than 10 minutes. We were just too excited. One year, my three older siblings were 14, 13 and 12 years old, I was 8, and my little sister Christiane was just 4 years old. We got too bored at home, got dressed in our ski suits and went outdoors to build snowmen, throw snowballs and play catch.
At some point, after what felt like an eternity, it was 2pm. Half frozen we came back home and Mama made us a hot chocolate. As we warmed up, we got more and more high-spirited. Little Christiane, with cheeks rosy from the cold, couldn’t wait any longer. She pushed my brother Herbert and told him to try the living room to see if it was still locked. Herbert was always the most daring of us kids. He grabbed Christiane’s hand, ran with her to the living room door and, with a sharp yank, pulled it open.
“For goodness sake!” yelled my mother and ran over quickly to shut the living room door. Herbert was shocked, because he’d never expected at 13 years old to have the strength to open a locked door. Everyone calmed down and the incident was forgotten. Only Christiane stayed standing by the living room door, which was now once again safely locked. She stood still as a stone with shining eyes and a little tear on her cheek. “Mama, I saw the Christ Child! There was a really bright light in the living room that must have been the Christ Child! We disturbed it and now it won’t come back anymore.” At this point, she gave a heart-wrenching sob. Mama knelt down by Christiane and consoled her with the words: “The Christ Child comes into our hearts Christiane. And, there is no door to our hearts that someone else can open. You have to open it yourself and let the Christ Child in.” And, little Christiane answered with all of the innocence of a 4 year old: “Like you are in my heart, Mama”.
The Christ Child did visit our living room that evening, despite being disturbed in the afternoon. Both Mama and the Christ Child are in the hearts of children. Children should be encouraged to believe in the Christ Child for as long as possible, because it really exists, in some form or another.