Archive | January 2015

The Chocolate Chip Monster

FullSizeRender-2When I was little I lived in a house with four boys. Life was always an adventure…even when it was quiet. And on days like today, when the house creaks in its stillness, I can’t help but think of one of my brothers who’d undoubtedly snicker at me if he saw what I was doing.

He was the second oldest child and probably the sneakiest. I’m sure he would disagree with me, but the truth be told, he was so charming that he could get away with murder and no one would ever know or care. So it should be no surprise when I say that he was notorious for raiding the kitchen when no one was around. Oh, he wasn’t one of those kids that were obsessed with food… he just had a craving for a particular item that would vanish in the night. He was clever. No one ever saw him taking the item out of the cabinet, nor eating it for that matter. But sure enough, whenever my mother reached for this sweet delectable, it was GONE. You could only imagine the horror on my mother’s face when a bake sale was looming and her chocolate chips were missing!!

Talk about an inquisition! Every child would be summoned to the living room where my father threatened groundings if whomever took the chips didn’t step forward. My oldest brother stood with his arms crossed glowering at each of us, as if to say, fess up or I’ll take you out. My youngest brother always piped up saying he wished he had taken them. And of course, I was the princess and we all know that princesses never take anything without asking. So that left child number one and two to battle it out as to who took the coveted chocolate chips.

FullSizeRender-1 Oh, I know what you are thinking right now… You’re probably wondering why chocolate chips were such a big deal. First, have you  seen the price of chocolate chips? Crazy, I know. You’d think they were produced in the Swiss Alps or something. Have you ever lived  in a house where dessert was a rare and unique thing? It was in my house. Can you imagine how many bake sales and classroom  parties my mother had to do with five children? Chocolate Chips were a BIG thing.

So back to my two brothers, sixteen months apart, standing in front of us denying any association to the chocolate delight.

“Just tell the truth,” my dad would plead. But both would stand their ground.

To this day I’m not sure what it really mattered. The chips were gone. It’s not like they were going to upchuck the little morsels and my mom could get back to her baking. The inquisition would usually end with my dad grounding all of us until someone came forward to tell the truth. Which, quite frankly, never worked. The reality of it was… we would drive our mother crazy grounded to the house, and she would finally kick us all outside and lock the door! (I don’t blame her.)

Then one day my brother got caught red handed. I’m not sure how it happened, but it did. He obviously was not on his game. He had to be seventeen years old and he stood in the kitchen with the bag dangling from his fingers. You’d think after years of taking them on the sly that he would have a better response then, “I felt like something sweet.” But no, he just stood there with his charming smile throwing my mom off her game. She laughed, he laughed and the gig was up.2015-01-26_1723

Fast forward to today…. You know, the quiet house and me? I had finished my workout and did my chores when a craving for something sweet took over me. What did I want? What could be left in my house of low carbs, vegetables and fruit? Ahh… You guessed it. CHOCOLATE CHIPS! Sweet little morsels of chocolate just calling my name. Why were they still here? Don’t laugh… but I’ve always bought more than I needed incase someone should become a Chocolate Chip Monster like my brother. So I paused inside the pantry as I argued with myself whether to raid the bag or not. And then a sly smile crossed my face as I thought of my brother and I said out loud, “I just feel like something sweet!”

Oh My Gosh… like brother, like sister… a Chocolate Chip Monster rises again!

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If Jesus had Army Men

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“Bang.” I heard his little voice say from the other room. “Step away from the manger.” My daughter asked a question and I was briefly distracted.

“ Move to the top of the hill and secure the area.” His five-year-old voice demanded again.

Turning to my husband I asked, “What is he doing in there?”

“He’s playing with his Army set.”

“Ahhh,” I said nodding my head with understanding.

My son continued to play well into the evening, entertaining himself with his little green Army men, and whatever he could find in the dining room, until he was ushered off to bed. It wasn’t until I was ready to go to be myself, and turning out the dinning room lights that I saw it.

“Honey,” I called out to my husband. “Can you come here for a minute?” As he entered the room a small smile crept upon his face as I held back a giggle.

“Have you ever seen anything like this?”

“No,” he chuckled, lowering his face to see more closely at our son’s strategic battlefield of Army men.

Before us sat the family Italian Nativity set that we placed in the house every year at Christmas. The kids had come to love the story of Baby Jesus, and couldn’t wait every day to move the nativity pieces closer to the manger. It was tradition to hide Jesus until he was born and on his birthday place him before Mary and Joseph. We talked about it every day.

But today ARMY MEN surrounded the nativity! They were atop the manger, lying before the shepherds and Kings, and hiding behind nearby candles.

The following morning I asked my son why he decided to place his Army men around the nativity… boy was I surprised.

“Mom, everyone knows that Baby Jesus is going to need protection. If he’d had an Army along time ago things would be different today.”

I stared at him for a minute and gave him a smile. Five years old and so smart…

“Well,” I said. “He had a different kind of Army… and they’re still around.”

His eyes grew wide. “Really?”

“Uh huh. They’re all the people who believe in Him.”

“Oh,” he said confused.

“Someday when you’re older you will understand,” I said, as I hugged his shoulder and we headed out to kindergarten.

But as I drove to school that day, I couldn’t help but think about all the countries that have gone to war over religion. I wondered what would have happened if Jesus had had Army men…

Author’s note: Each year when we put the nativity set out, I think of this particular Christmas and wonder, will the world ever stop fighting over religion?