My favorite Christmas memory happened last Christmas Eve.
I suppose that one could argue that since said memory occurred last year instead of further into the recesses of my subconscious mind, this is my most recent Christmas memory, rather than my favorite.
Believe me; it's my favorite.
Oh, sure, I remember getting a bike for Christmas one year, a Cabbage Patch Kid with all the trimmings another year, a boom box yet another year, a fiance.
This memory is still my favorite.
I was 4 months pregnant with Sleeping Beauty; Cinderella was 2 1/2 and potty trained.
We were visiting my family in Seattle, and dressed in our Christmas best ("best" is relative when you're 4 months pregnant and morning sickness has just passed).
One of my favorite things to do when we visit my family is to go to the church I grew up in. I grew up Catholic, and sometimes, my spirit just craves the ordered worship of the liturgy. It's beautiful and holy. I still remember the prayers and creeds, and my spirit cries out to God in a way that it doesn't do in other churches. I don't know what it is, but I love it. Every once in awhile.
We went to the children's service, earlier in the evening, so we could head out to see my mom's family afterwards (9:00 mass is too late for a 2-year-old; trust me). The church was packed with young families.
The priest called the children forward so they could sit on the floor, below the altar, and watch and Christmas pageant being enacted. We allowed Cinderella to go forward by herself.
That was our fatal mistake.
The pageant ended, and the children trooped back to their parents. All the children except Cinderella.
She didn't come back.
I was sitting on the aisle, so I peered around the pew in front of me to see where she was, thinking she perhaps just got lost on her way back to us.
Oh no. Nothing with Cinderella could have been that simple.
While I began to panic, Prince Charming leaned over and pointed.
There she was. Standing at the very front of the church, on the bottom stair (which is 4-5 feet deep; a good platform) dancing to the Christmas carol the choir had begun singing.
Dancing. In front of the whole church.
The priest was still standing there, watching her with a huge grin on his face.
She wasn't coming back to us; she was still dancing.
In all fairness, this was probably her dream come true: a full audience with its entire attention fixated on her.
I, of course, had to be the one to ruin it.
I headed on up the aisle to retrieve my daughter; I grabbed her arm, and SHE RAN AWAY FROM ME!!!
ME!!! Her mama! Her 4-months-pregnant mama!!
I eventually snagged her, and carried her back to our seats. She, naturally, was kicking and fussing so much I had to carry her stretched out across my arms and pregnant belly. To top it all off, her pretty Tinkerbell underwear was exposed to the entire congregation.
Everyone was laughing.
The priest made some off-hand comment that I didn't hear through my total and utter embarrassment, and everyone laughed again.
Fortunately, mass was almost over at this point, but Cinderella was done. She'd had her moment in the spotlight, and she wanted nothing more to do with church for the evening.
Ahh, blessed memories! You gotta love 'em!
Children, too. You gotta love children, too.