A mother’s prayer as her family prepares to perform “Silent Night” as the final number at their church Christmas service:
We thank thee this day for the opportunity to sing this beloved and sacred Christmas carol that has inspired mankind for generations. We bristle with gratitude for a husband who volunteered us to do so without checking with his wife first or remembering that three of his six children are less likely to sing like a choir of angels and more likely to punch each other every 30 seconds.
We thank thee for the many cookies that are waiting for us at home as a bribe for any and all children who will stand still for the duration of the song and get through all three verses without attempting to lick the microphone.
Please bless us to not sound like a gang of feral cats fighting in a trash can as we raise our voices to the heavens in praise of thee.
Bestow upon the 5-year-old the inner strength to get over the fact that his brother wouldn’t let him hold the paper airplane he’d folded, thus prompting him to rip off his own face mask, throw it on the ground like a stockbroker who’d just lost $90 million, and crawl under the pew in an epic pout. Please, if it be thy will, take away his 5-year-old-ness for just a few minutes so that I, as thy servant, won’t have to drag him out of the room and handcuff him to the sofa in the foyer.
In a similar vein, please bless him to not attempt a base jump from the podium onto the chapel floor. Thou knowest that he of all my children would try it. Thou knowest.
Help my husband to understand that the tenor part of “Silent Night” was already decided long ago and does not need his reinterpretation at this particular moment. Grant him the serenity to accept the voice range he cannot change, courage to change the off-key notes he can and the wisdom to know the difference.
Shine thy favor on my daughters, upon whom we are relying to really carry this whole thing and who are desperately trying to avoid eye contact with the cute boy in the fourth row, lest they blush the color of a poinsettia and completely lose their power of voice. May he suddenly need to use the bathroom and leave the chapel for the duration of the song.
Bless my teenage son, he who towers over us all, to keep his hands still for the next three to four minutes. Take from him the desire to drum incessantly on whatever surface is in front of him or pretend his fingers are careening down a ramp on a tiny skateboard. Blind his eyes to his friend sitting in the back of the chapel who is trying to get him to laugh. Send down lightning upon that friend. Please. And maybe upon the one two rows in front of him, as well.
Bless those in the congregation with neither eyes to see the snag I got in my pantyhose while dealing with the paper airplane situation nor ears to hear the sound of my youngest son repeatedly banging his knees into the podium.
Guide us through the key change that comes rather unnecessarily halfway through the song, and deliver us from the F-sharp minor.
Help me to remember – as we are singing about the holiest, most patient of all mothers to walk the face of the earth – that it is poor form to reach down and twist the ears of the 8- and 11-year-old boys who have started elbowing each other in the side. May they quickly tire of their shenanigans and begin singing like members of the Vienna Boys Choir, which would be the unlikeliest of miracles but might be worth a shot.
We ask these thy blessings and commend our song to the deep. May it never resurface at some point on the internet, we pray. Amen.
Julia Ditto shares her life with her husband, six children and a random menagerie of farm animals in Spokane Valley. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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