We're talking about Christmas songs at the lunch table. I say, "My favorite song is 'Silent Night'. I like to sing it when it's Christmas Eve and the church is dark except for all the candles glowing in every person's hands." "I don't like that song." My three-year-old says.
"But it's really beautiful."
"Hmmmm." He takes bite of cheese quesadilla. This is the start of the days his 13-year-old self will use that word to answer every question I ask.
I'm feeling talkative, like I need to prove something.
"Sometimes," I say, "when I sing that song, I think about Jesus being born and his mama holding him and the angels singing and the donkeys scooting around the barn and then I cry. I cry because I love Jesus so much and I'm so glad he came to rescue us."
August looks up at me, confused. Great, I've confused him by saying I cry about Jesus. He's going to think Jesus makes me sad.
After lunch when I'm leaning over his bed, whispering a story then tucking him snug as a bug in a rug, he gets that look on his face and moves his head like a tiny professor, shifting his eyes to the corner because he feels that what he's saying is very important.
"Mommy, sometimes I cry because I love Jesus so much," he says.
"Honey, you can love Jesus without having to cry," I say, trying to correct my careless confusion. "You know me, I just cry about everything."
"No," he says. "Sometimes I just sing and sing and cry because I love Jesus."
"Well, I'm really glad you love Jesus," I say.
Then I blow him a big bubblegum kiss that invisibly pops onto my face. I roll it up in my hands and stick it on his face, blankets snuggled up to his chin.
Later that week, after Chris tucks him in, he comes into the living room. "You won't believe what August said tonight," he says, laughing. He said, "Sometimes I cry when I sing about Christmas because I love Jesus so much."
I laugh and bury my face in my hands. "I'm the worst," I say. "Is that good or bad?"
Chris isn't worried. (He's never worried. That's my job.) But I wonder: What will he remember about growing up in our home? What will stick in him about our faith? What will I have said that breaks him later? What image of Jesus have I projected to my boy?
Then, it's Sunday. I stand beside my husband, my boys down the hall in their Sunday School classrooms, and I sing "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel."
There in that room, this Advent Sunday is bright with the sunshine of morning, the world is awaiting a Savior who is coming to "Disperse the gloomy clouds of night, / And death's dark shadows put to flight."
The author, that 12th century brother or sister in the faith, bids me Rejoice. And sometimes I cry because I love Jesus so much and I'm so glad he came to rescue us.