It was Christmas 2000 and Christina was 8 and Michael was 6. I had signed up to do the special lighting of the Advent Candles at the 8:30 am service at church. This is where you read a short piece and then light the appropriate number of candles for Advent. This plan included having my mother in law assist to help the kids each light one candle while I read the accompanying words. However, at the last minute, my MIL wasn’t able to attend. So I was frantic trying to figure out how to have the kids light the candles without supervision. My friend, Marilyn understood my concerns and moved the altar where the candles were so they were right next to the stand for the reading. All went well as we were called up front; my children in their best Christmas dress prepared to participate in this most solemn event following my exact instructions and explicit lecture of what to do and how to behave. We walked up and I lit the small candle and handed it to Christina indicating which candle she was to light and also told Michael which candle he would light after Christina’s was done. Then I moved over and began my reading. Everything was going smoothly; I was reading clear and slow, Christina lit her candle and then handed it over to Michael who lit his candle. (“Almost done.” I thought to myself) and then…
And then Michael went to blow out the small candle and in the process also blew out the two they had just lit on the advent table. Christina immediately began berating him in a loud whisper for what he did and attempted to get my attention to say: “Mom, look at what Michael did!”—I grabbed the lighter and lit the small candle again as I continued to read what now had become the longest piece ever in the history of Lakewood Park United Methodist Church Advent Candle Lighting Family Ceremony.
The kids lit the candles again (Michael under Christina’s strict admonition to “be careful!” which was whispered loud enough for the first 5 pews to hear.) Again Michael blew out the small one and this time only one of the candles also went out. Christina was beside herself that he did the same thing again (he truly had tried not to) and she immediately lit the small candle off the one still lit and re-lit Michael’s candle and then turned away from the table and blew it out. Mission accomplished.
But I couldn’t do it anymore. I had a very difficult time maintaining my composure and barely finished the reading when I quickly ushered the kids off the altar. I was so mad that I didn’t speak to them for the rest of the morning. Of course, those in the congregation came to me after the service and told me that it was “priceless, just priceless.”