Being a righteous person, I decided to lead my family in a religious devotional reading on Christmas Eve in advance of the gift-ripping event the next day.
“Sit down,” I yelled at my adult kids. “We’re having a family homily time before dinner. So if you don’t listen with your mouths shut, you can’t eat.”
“How can we eat with our mouths shut?” asked Biff.
“You can open your mouths to eat, but only after I read this family devotional booklet that I picked up at the Substance Mart checkout line.”
“Are we allowed to breathe?” asked Rhonda.
“Funny,” I growled. “Now pipe down while I read this inspiring biblical story.”
I glanced at the date on the page. December 24. I had previously noted that many of the devotional messages were written about famous holy people, such as Saint Augustine, Papa John, and Louie Louie. “Darn,” I said as I looked at the Christmas Eve page. “The bugger who wrote this one didn’t even include a prayer!”
My daughter Lisa made a suggestion. “Why don’t you say your own prayer?” she asked.
“Okay,” I retorted defiantly. “I just might do that. Just watch me. So now you all have to bow your heads.”
I bowed my head but kept my eyes open to see if the other heads were bowed. “Dear God,” I said. “Thank you for Christmas, and thank you that we can read this devotional booklet from the Substance Mart express lane. And thank you that when we are knocked down by life’s troubles we can pop back up like inflatable, Bozo-the-Clown punching-bag toys. Amen.”
Bart snorted, “What? Bozo? Are you kidding? That’s a prayer?” Lisa, Biff, and Rhonda looked at each other and snickered.
“That’s enough guffawing out of you all! We’re reading this over my dead body! And it’s a serious story! Not funny!”
My wife got up to turn off the beeper on the stove, because the toast casserole was done. Biff, Bart, Rhonda, and Lisa continued chuckling and chatting during the temporary distraction. I realized I had lost control of the family Bible-reading fellowship time, but I plowed ahead anyway.
“Lena Horne had trials in her life,” I read. “But because of her cheekbones, she pressed on.”
My wife brought the toast casserole to the table. Everyone started eating. I gave up and started eating, too.
Maybe next year family devotional time will go better. I can always pray.