Monday, December 5, 2016

A Christmas miracle?

When I was growing up, there came a time when the kids in the family (me, my siblings, my cousins) started to grow out of the toys our grandparents had been buying us as gifts. But they still wanted to buy something at Christmas, so...what to do?

Enter: The Happy Game. You've probably seen this game before. It has many variations and names, but basically everyone brings a wrapped gift (there's usually a spending limit and/or theme), and you sit in a big circle passing dice. When you get three matching dice (or whatever you choose as the "winning" roll), you get to pick a gift from the pile. The next person who rolls winning dice can choose another gift...or they can take yours.

This goes on until the timer runs out. Typically a lot of trading goes on before the game is over.

Well. One year, my aunt and uncle were hosting Christmas and The Happy Game was planned. "Movies" was the theme, so everyone brought a wrapped movie. No one was supposed to know which movie anyone else had brought.

My uncle got into the spirit of the game in an interesting way. He thought it would be funny to buy an "adult" movie for our game. I think he hoped to finagle my aunt into choosing it. I'm not really sure what he was thinking. But Christmas day came, The Happy Game commenced, and my uncle's plan...whatever it was...quickly went awry.

Wrapped movies were chosen and passed and stolen and re-stolen as the game went on and it soon became clear it was not his wife who would end up with the highly inappropriate movie, but my mother, a very conservative Christian woman with four young children watching. My uncle tried in vain to roll three matching dice and steal the movie from her, but it was not to be. His face grew grim as time ticked down. This was not the funny prank he had envisioned.

Then, the game ended. We began to unwrap our gifts, one by one, around the circle.

As my mother's turn to unwrap came closer, my uncle began to noticeably squirm. In fact, I think he began to sweat as he did some serious re-thinking about his life choices. When she began tearing the wrapping paper off her gift, he looked like he might pass out.

All eyes were on my mother.

The wrapping paper fell away and, with a smile on her face, she proudly held up her movie for all to see. A copy of The Jesus Film. It was a Christmas miracle! My uncle stared in stunned silence. What had happened? Had the Lord Himself intervened to rescue the poor, misguided soul who thought an X-rated film would add excitement to our Happy Game?


Turns out my aunt had discovered my uncle's plans the night before and secretly switched the movies and rewrapped them in the same paper without breathing a word to anyone. Then she sat back and watched the drama unfold. The full story didn't come out until much later.

Maybe, in a way, the Lord did intervene. Make of it what you will. But either way, The Happy Game remains a favorite Christmas tradition in our family to this day and none of us, least of all my uncle, will ever forget the year of the Christmas miracle.

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