Christmas Eve in Portland

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“What’s going through that beautiful head of yours?” Hank asked Ede as she stood there by the fireplace, studying him. It was Christmas Eve and they were in the living-room. His mother was upstairs taking a nap.

“I’m still trying to picture you as a little terror.”

He laughed. “Believe it or not, I was. My poor mother had quite a time with me. And I got a good whopping from my father.”

“Your mother said that even though you were a handful, you weren’t a bad boy. She mentioned that there other kids who grew up to be delinquents and many of them dropped out of school and got into trouble with the law.”

“Yes, they did. I think going to church and becoming an Adventurer helped.”

“An Adventurer?”

“Yes, that’s an Adventist Youth Ministry program. I was 8 at the time. At 10, I became a Pathfinder, an Ambassador at 16 and a young adult at 22. I loved being a part of the Youth Ministry. I even became Sabbath School teacher for the preteens.”

“And then, you became a pastor.”

“Yes.”

“It was God’s plan all along for you to be a pastor.”

“Yes and I can’t imagine being anything else.”

“Well, I for one am extremely happy that you’re a pastor and that you were sent to Cotonou.”

“Me too because I got to meet you. And here, we are in Portland and in the house I grew up in.”

“How does it feel sleeping in your old room again?”

“Nostalgic. I remember the times when I would be lying on the floor, reading comics, imagining what it would be like to be a superhero like Superman or Batman. And then ,when I heard my mother coming down the corridor, I would hide the comics and take out my Bible, open it and pretend that I had been reading it. She would come into my room and smile. Ruffling my hair, she used to say, “I’m happy to see you reading the Good book.”

“So, she believed that you had been reading the Bible?”

“Yes. Until one night I had the Bible opened to the book of first Samuel and she asked me to tell her what I had learnt so far. I was stumped and that’s when she knew that I had been faking all along. She asked me, ‘What have you been reading instead of your Bible?’ I told her the truth. She demanded that I give her the comics. I gave them to her. ‘I’ll hold on to these for now. Now, I want you to read about Samuel, the prophet. At an early age he was serving God. You might learn a lot from him. Goodnight.’ She kissed me on the forehead and left.”

“What did you do?”

“I sat there fuming for a while and then, I decided to read the story of Samuel and I’m happy that I did. From that night, I began to read the Bible. It was more action packed than the comics I had been reading. And I liked the pictures, especially the one of David and Goliath. I admired David’s courage.”

“The story of David and Goliath is one of my favorites. I also like the books of Ruth and Esther, I guess because they are so romantic.”

“Romantic?”

“Yes, Boaz, an older Jewish man falls in love with Ruth, a young Moabite widow. Then, you have a handsome Gentile king and the beautiful Jewish orphan who becomes his queen. I watched the movie One Night With the King about Esther and loved it.”

“It’s funny, I didn’t read either of those stories until I was in my late teens. As a kid, I liked stories like David and Goliath, Jonah and the whale and the battles. I was more into the action than the lovey dovey stuff. You know how boys are. We all thought kissing a girl was yucky until we were older and then, that was all we could think about.”

Ede laughed. “Were you one of those boys who used to pull a girl’s hair or pinch her on the arm because you liked her?”

“No. When I liked a girl I used to take her fishing or let her hold my frog if it didn’t freak her out. Once I picked some wild flowers and gave a girl and she kissed me on the cheek. I was over the moon. I wanted to ask her to marry me but we were too young–I was ten and she was eight.”

Ede laughed. “That’s so adorable,” she said.

He smiled. “I’m glad you think so. When I told my friends, they almost gagged. ‘You let a girl kiss you?’ they exclaimed in horror.”

“I bet that they wouldn’t have objected if the girls they liked kissed them.”

“Probably not.”

“If I were that little girl and you gave me flowers, I would have kissed you on the cheek too.”

“And I would have liked that very much.”

Ede watched as he approached her and her heart began to beat faster. Aside from holding hands and the kiss she had given him once on the cheek, they had not kissed. Was now the time for them to have their first kiss? It was something she had dreamed about for a long time.

When he reached her, he stood in front of her, their bodies inches apart. Their eyes met and held for several minutes and then, his hands were on her shoulders. He drew her close and she watched, transfixed as his face drew nearer. Her eyes fell shut when she felt his lips on hers and putting her arms around his waist, she readily responded.

Her lips felt so soft that Hank’s kisses became passionate. He heard her moan when he put his tongue inside her mouth. For several minutes they stood there in front of the fireplace kissing with abandon as their feelings for each other got the better of them and then, he raised his head. His face was flushed and they were both breathing very heavily. “I think we should stop,” he muttered thickly.

She nodded. “You-you’re right.”

“Let’s go outside for a while.”

“All right.”

They left the living-room and went to get their coats. It was a bit cold but it was nice being outside. The air was fresh and crisp. “It’s supposed to snow tonight,” Hank told her.

“So, we’re going to have a white Christmas.”

“Yes. I promised you that we would.”

“Well, I hope that there will lots and lots of snow.”

“You want us to be snowed in?”

“Yes. I want the snow to reach up to the windows. I wonder what it’s like to be waist deep in the snow.”

“I’m not sure you’d want to find out.”

“Have you ever been snowed in?”

“Yes, years ago and we couldn’t leave the house for a couple of days.”

“Okay, I don’t want us to be snowed in although it would be so cozy–the three of us in the living-room with the fire burning in the fireplace and I’m looking out at the falling snow.”

“It sounds cozy yes, but what about when you have to shovel all of that snow? I feel tired just thinking about it.”

She laughed. “All right. Not too much snow, then, just enough to make a snowman.”

“And enough for us to have that snow fight which wouldn’t be much fun if we’re waist deep in snow.”

“I’m going to enjoy that snow fight,” she told him. “I have a pretty good aim you know.”

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He chuckled. “So do I, Ms. Sossou.”

“Who has the least number of snowballs in their area wins, right?”

“Yes.”

“So, what do I win?”

“Ah, so you think you’re going to win.”

She laughed. “Yes.”

“All right, if you win, you get to name the snowman we build.”

“Okay. And if you win?”

“I get to choose what kind of sweater he wears.”

“Why can’t you name him if you win and I choose his sweater if I win?”

“Now, Ede. Naming a snowman is a great honor.”

She picked up a small pebble and threw it at him, laughing when he ducked behind the post.

Mrs. Johnson watched them from her bedroom window. It was so good to have Hank home for Christmas and New Year’s. And she could see how happy he was and she knew it was all because of Ede. Ede was a lovely young woman who was obviously in love with her son and she was very thankful to have her spend the holidays with them.

Source: Adventist Youth Ministry

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