Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Almost Rapture

I was 9 years old when my grandmother told me that Jesus was going to be coming back on Christmas Eve.

My grandmother always seemed to have insider evangelical information, mainly stuff discovered from years of theological studies, but from time to time, bits of prophesy acquired from late night infomercials as well.

Either way, I recall thinking 'who in their right minds proceeds to tell a nine year old something of this nature?' As if I would be elated, having already lived a good long life, sowed my wild oats, and come to the conclusion that I wanted the Lord to hurry up and take me out of this God forsaken place already...yeah, not so much. My days consisted mostly of tea parties and amusement parks, so the last thing I was looking forward to was being "raptured."

It was a few days before Christmas Eve, and in the same way misery loves company, evidently, so does sheer panic and anxiety. There was no way I could keep this big, horrifying secret to myself, so I decided to break the news to my 7-year-old brother as well.

Needless to say our holiday vacation didn't have that carefree air about it that it used to. When Christmas Eve finally arrived I remember my brother and I were on our best behavior, not wanting to bicker or fight, or use the restroom much for that matter...I mean who wants to be taken up mid-tinkle, right?

The day proceeded to go by as usual- cooking, eating, cleaning, cooking again....but still no second coming. By this point the anticipation had consumed my brother and mine's every thought and we saw little purpose in leaving cookies out for Santa, nor wasting our time dreaming of sugarplums or the gifts that would never be opened.

Cruelly enough, our mother had decided to put us to sleep at around 8 o'clock, so that "Santa" could get an early jump on things. To her curiosity I passed up a night in my own cozy bed, instead choosing to roll out a sleeping bag on my brother's floor. I figured this way when IT happened I would know immediately, rather than risk being left behind, and not discovering said chilling fact until the next morning when I woke up to a tinsel covered ghost town.

Needless to say, those were the longest 4 hours of our entire lives. My brother and I were both glued to the clock, watching as final minute, after final minute ticked by. At which point I'll acknowledge that yes, it was a given Christ worked according to Central Standard Time. We were small children and didn't realize He had any other options.

And then, finally, the moment came. The clock read 11:59. It was J.C.'s last chance, and man, had he really drug this whole debacle out...but who can blame him, you only get to orchestrate a second coming once, right?

I don't think either of us took in one ounce of oxygen for that entire minute. When the clock finally struck 12, and the blue started to leave our little faces I remember wondering how my grandmother must be feeling right at that moment. Was she embarrassed by her miscalculation? Was she up pacing and feverishly writing Robert Tilton hate mail? Or had she perhaps simply shrugged it off and headed back to bed thinking "oh well, maybe next year?" Did she even realize that she had completely robbed her two precious grandchildren of the joy of Christmas that year?

All I know is we never told our mother, in fear that she would never let us go back over to grandma's house again- so obviously her positives outweighed her negatives in our eyes.

By the way, that Christmas she gave me a bike and $200 dollars, which goes to show you she had somewhat thought ahead and couldn't have been all that invested in this whole "rapture on Christmas Eve" premonition.

Years later when I asked her about this landmark moment in my childhood, she simply laughed and told me she'd just gone to sleep that night, same as any other...just as I had suspected.

happy holidays!

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