(c) Copyright 2000 Rev. Bill Versteeg

Who here remembers what happened last year on Christmas Eve in Tim and Sarah's family.

(There was a big blizzard, on Christmas Eve, Tim and Sarah's mom had a baby boy and the baby was going to sleep in Tim's room, which Tim at first was not very happy about. But after he saw all that his Mom went through to have his little brother, he felt that making a little room in his room wasn't such a big deal after all.)

That little baby boy born on Christmas Eve they called Ronald (just like in Ronald Macdonald) - and Ronald grew and grew, as babies do, Tim, now 13 and Sarah 11 had a lot to do with Ronald's growing up.

Mon and Dad let Tim and Sarah babysit a few times, a couple of hours here or there when they went to meetings or to visit others. And Tim had to learn the ropes of changing colorful diapers and feeding. What Tim really enjoyed was breakfast time. He would often feed Ronald that yukky stuff they call pablum that babies would eat anyways since they had never tasted normal food. Tim made it fun. Every spoonful became a jet plane dive bombing and always getting rid of its load right on target. And Ronald's hungry smiling eyes would follow that spoon where ever it swooshed in the kitchen all the way to his mouth. Sarah too had a lot of fun with Ronald. When she came with one of his teddy bears and made it talk to him, he would laugh and laugh. She got so good at making little bears talk that a "Tickle me Elmo" just was not very interesting to Ronald. Ronald was a lot of fun - and Tim and Sarah had a lot of fun with him. They loved their little brother, even when he got crankly, like he had been for the last week.

Tim and Sarah knew why - Ronald was getting some of his teeth, and as those teeth slowly and painful worked their way through Ronald's gums Ronald had a very sore mouth. He would droll all over his clothing. He would chew on anything he could get his mouth onto. All Ronald wanted was his teeth, and there was only one way to get them it seeming, by chewing on things. He would chew on his crib. The two teeth he had already had worked their way into the wood at the head of the crib. Tim had joked that they should get him a bone for Christmas.

"He's not a dog" Mom responded.

Anyways, this was Christmas Eve, early in the morning. Mom and Dad had been busy and they wanted to do some last minute Christmas shopping so they asked if Tim and Sarah would babysit Ronald while they were gone. Maybe four hours - they would have to feed him and keep Ronald entertained and as happy as possible while they were gone. And since Tim and Sarah knew all to well that this last minute Christmas shopping was probably for them, they quickly agreed to be the babysitters for the day.

Mom, as she always did gave very clear instructions. Change his diapers if Ronald gets wet or dirty. And keep your eyes on him, you wouldn't believe how fast he can crawl from one place to another. And watch what he sticks in his mouth - he'll chew on anything.

Sarah could tell mom was a little nervous leaving them with Ronald so long, but they had shopping to do and this would be their last chance before Christmas day. So they left clear instructions and went to the car and drove away. Dad again and again had to reassure Mom that everything would go OK. Maybe he spoke to early.

Taking care of Ronald on this Christmas Eve started OK, but Ronald just wanted to cry and hold his fingers in his mouth and droll. After Tim put a bit of Oragel onto Ronald's soother, he settled down a little bit, and they thought it would be a good idea to go and watch a movie in the family room. The movie was an old one, but it helped to pass the time for Tim and Sarah, but not for Ronald. He didn't understanding TV, and it just was not interesting to him.

So he started crawling - first to a few toys that Tim and Sarah had pulled out for him. But Ronald was able to crawl and pull himself to his feet beside chairs and tables - so away he want. First Time then Sarah pulled him back to the toys, but he was just not interested.

The problem was that Tim and Sarah started getting to interested in the movie - and Ronald wandered off. They weren't too worried, the house was pretty much kid proofed and the door to the basement stairs was closed and latched. It would be hard for Ronald to hurt himself.

The action in the movie started getting better, Ronald was quiet, everything seemed to be going well. Tim decided he had better check where Ronald went so he left the living room, to the kitchen, no Ronald, to the hallway - all the doors were still closed except the closet.

"Ronald, where did you go this time?"

Then Tim heard him - sure enough, he was in the closet by the back door, it was always a little open. In there were coats and boots and Shredder's basket. Shredder the dog, they got his name from shredding every toy he could get his mouth onto when he was a puppy. He even had chewed into a table leg. It didn't take long to call him Shredder.

Tim opened the door to the closet wide, and sure enough, there was Ronald, his leg all wet and dirty, his mouth drolling again - this time knawing on a piece of crunchy dog food.

"Ronny, I can't believe you, get out of there right now."

Sarah came running from the family room - and it didn't take to much for them to figure out that Ronald needed a bath and they would have to rinse his clothing and clean up to get rid of the evidence.

But they were good at that. Both of them hoped that Ronald would not get sick from anything he ate - he seemed OK. They cleaned up, put Ronald in clean diapers and another sleeper and went back to watching TV.

Ronald would have nothing of it. No matter how many funny critters jumped across the screen of the TV, he was just not interested. And soon he was off again - again though, Tim and Sarah felt it was OK. Now the dogs closet was thoroughly closed, he couldn't get in there any more.

He wasn't gone for more than a few minutes and Tim said to Sarah

"It's your turn to go check on him - make sure he is OK"

Sarah grumbled something about having been the one who gave Ronald a bath - but she went and was back in a few seconds.

"He's in the middle of the kitchen floor, all the doors are locked and kid proofed - he's OK."

They sat down and watched a few more exciting minutes of the movie when they were interupted by a clatter that came from the kitchen. They both jumped up and ran to see what had happened. Sure enough Ronald had found the garbage can - there was slobber all over the edge of it - and he had managed to pull the whole thing over on himself.

OH NO - there was only one way to deal with yesterdays leftovers that were on the floor and on Ronald - Sarah would clean up the kitchen and Tim would give him the bath this time. They were good. In 15 minutes, everything was cleaned up, and Ronald like new.

"What could happen next?" Tim thought to himself.

Tim and Sarah resolved that no matter what, they would keep Ronald in the same room with them. Mom and Dad would proably be home in an hour anyways.

Ronald was again getting cranky. The orajel worn off. Three time they kept him from leaving the family room, each time trying to find a new toy that would interest him.

Finally he stayed, his innocent curious eyes looking all over the room for something to chew on. For a few seconds he gnawed on the corner of the couch, but it didn't taste very good. So Ronald crawled on. Tim and Sarah started feeling safe again and so they let their attention go back to the TV again, the movie had a few minutes left, and it was pretty exciting.

Ronald in the meantime had gone to the back of the room, behind Tim and Sarah - he was watching the lights on the Christmas tree go off and on, off and on. There were no presents under the tree yet. Mom knew better. Ronald would have chewed on them to. And the only Christmas tree decorations were beyond Ronalds reach or he would have chewed on them too.

Except for one decoration - the string of flashing Christmas lights. They started close to the ground at the back of the tree where they were plugged in, the first light was within Ronald reach, and on this Christmas Eve, Ronald found it.

Tim heard the russel by the tree, turned his head just in time to see Ronald put a little flashing Christmas light into his mouth. His jumped and dove right at the tree and at Ronald and screamed at the same time. It wasn't a very controlled dive - Tim knocked over the tree, bumped his head on the corner of a small table and ended up landing right on top of Ronald - but as this all happened, the light was ripped out of Ronald's mouth.

All Tim could see was stars for a few seconds as he pulled himself off of Ronald who was just starting to cry. Blood!  Now it was blood that came from Ronald's mouth - Tim and Sarah's first concern was wether or not he had broken the light bulb in his mouth, but when they looked the light bulb was still whole. The wire and the socket must have been pulled out of his mouth so hard that it tore his lip or gum.

Again, Tim and Sarah had to make sure Ronald was OK - and he seemed to be, a little wimpering and some blood from his mouth, but otherwise he acted OK. They also had another mess to clean up, this time the tree with all its decorations on the top. So that they could concentrate on the clean up, they put Ronald in his bed. He cried and complained for a few minutes, but then he went to sleep on his side. All these baths and surprises seemed to have made him tired.

Tim and Sarah finished their clean up. The movie had finished and they had hardly noticed. Tim was surprised at what he had done. He never knew that babies could be so much trouble or maybe trouble prone. But when the time came, when Ronald was in trouble, he had dove right in when he saw that his little brother was in danger without a second thought, and gotten a good bruise on his head to boot. Tim thought to himself  "I'd do it again if I had too." He had never felt so responsible before. He could not help but wonder how in the world Mom took care of Ronald day after day when they were in school.

Mom and Dad came home, and between Sarah telling them that Tim had not done his share and Tim reminding them that Sarah had done the less important work, no secrets could be kept. Mom went to look at Ronald, she woke him up and looked in his mouth - it was still bleeding a bit, but low and behold - there was his second tooth, just through the gums were it was bleeding. When she had heard the whole story, she quietly said

"I know Ronald is hard to watch. I think you could have done better. Now you know how hard it can be to take care of him. But you know what I also know - I know you love Ronald, and today, by watching him, and keeping him away from danger, you showed that to me again.

The Christmas Eve service was later that night, and the pastor talked about the love of God. Because of God's great love for us - God came into this world by sending his own son, a baby - and that baby to rescue us from the dangers of sin, dove in, came to live among us, and when he was grown up, he died in order to save us.

Do you know his name?

"For God so loved the world that he gave his One and Only Son, that whoever believes on his name shall not perish but have eternal life."  John 3:16

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