The Text from “Remembering the Child”

Remembering the Child CoverI have placed the text of the book “Remembering the Child” below with some of the digital paintings for your reference. The message is tender, powerful and very timely. Please share it.

The book is available for purchase.

-Lester Yocum

Once there was a boy who didn’t like Christmas.

Boy FocusedHe didn’t like all the cheap presents and old stories and lights and songs. He didn’t know why, but somehow they didn’t feel right to him. So whenever Christmas came around he would stay at home and play video games and watch TV.

Electronic Distractions, GirlIn the same town lived a girl who didn’t like Christmas, either. They had never met, but just like the boy, the season didn’t feel right to her. So whenever Christmas came around she would stay at home and play video games and watch TV, too.

No one knew why the boy and girl disliked Christmas so much. Some said it was because they hadn’t gotten enough presents when they were younger, but others said it was because they had gotten too many. But still others said that it wasn’t Christmas that the boy and the girl disliked, but what it had become.

The Boy and the Girl Are DistractedEvery year the season seemed to become more selfish, more about getting than giving. That made it feel empty to them, and that’s why they stayed home. And so, while others were out buying presents and candy and wishing for more stuff, the girl and the boy stayed in their homes and watched their TVs.

Their moms and dads and cousins and friends would invite them to go outside and such. And because the boy and the girl were not rude, sometimes they would go. But most of the time they just stayed at home where they didn’t have to see or hear the cheap presents and old stories and lights and songs.

One day things changed.

Throwing OrangesThe boy and the girl heard that a parade was coming to town. Parades had lights and noises and fun things to see. But even better, they had lots and lots of food. And even if you didn’t like the lights and noises and the things to see, you could still enjoy the food! Besides, the girl and the boy were getting tired of watching the same old shows on their TVs. So when their dads invited them to go to the parade, to everyone’s surprise they went. And though they didn’t know it, the boy and the girl were about to meet.

You see, they happened to be watching the parade from the same side of the same street, not very far apart, in a crowd. And a big float shaped like an orange came by carrying people waving their hands and smiling big smiles. Clowns dressed like elves walked beside it tossing big, juicy oranges into the crowd.

Catching OrangesNow, the boy and the girl had always liked oranges, but on that day they liked them even more. In the chilly air, those round balls of fruit looked so beautiful and smelled so delicious that everyone wanted one. So they all tried to get one for themselves. In the jumble, many oranges bounced out of children’s gloves and landed on the ground and rolled away. Some of those oranges got squashed and some got picked up, but then the next float came by and the crowd forgot all about them.

The boy and the girl, however, didn’t forget about them. They picked them up and stuffed them into their pockets and hats and wherever they could jam them. And they got quite a few.

SurprisedOne orange rolled into an alley and stopped against a large cardboard box. The boy and the girl saw the orange and then, for the very first time, they saw each other. They looked at the orange, then at each other with their pockets and hats brimming with oranges. Then they grinned great, “Me first!” grins and raced after it.

The girl reached the orange first. She scooped it up and held it high, laughing in triumph. The boy joined in and together they danced, reaching for the prize.

ConcernedThen something made them stop. Looking around, they shivered with the crawly kind of feeling that wriggles down your spine and makes you feel like you’re being watched.

Peeking Out of the BoxSpying a small hole on one side of the box, the boy bent to look inside. He jumped back as a pair of wide, frightened eyes goggled at him. For the briefest of moments their gazes locked, and then the eyes blinked and disappeared into the box. The girl and the boy stared at each other, their mouths open, and then knelt down and peered inside.

Child Clutches Her MotherTwo ragged bundles lay inside the box. One was a very young girl dressed in a hodgepodge of too-small clothing. The other was a woman who seemed to be sleeping. The child stared at them with eyes wide as an owl’s. She made no sound but gripped the woman tightly. Her eyes darted toward the older girl’s hand and then flicked away.

Offering an OrangeThe girl looked down. She was holding an orange. It looked large and luminous, glowing like a candle against the shadows in the alley. She looked up and saw the child staring at it. With a smile the girl held out the fruit. The child looked away quickly, fearfully, clutching the adult. The woman stirred and coughed a very ragged cough and became still once more.

Touching the OrangeThe girl placed the orange just inside the box, where a bit of daylight made it gleam. For a few moments the child did not move. Then, carefully, she reached out and touched the glowing treasure. She shrank back and glanced at her mother. The woman did not move. One more time, a dirty hand slowly reached out. It touched the orange, hesitated, then grabbed it and pulled it inside.

Giving OrangesThe boy and the girl watched the child’s eyes fill with wonder, staring at the fruit. The two of them looked at each other. They nodded. Then all at once they emptied the oranges out of their pockets and hats and wherever they had jammed them and piled them into the box.

Child SmilingThe child sat watching them, amazed. She did not move; she seemed not to breathe. For a moment, they sat in silence. Then the young child smiled.

The boy and the girl heard their families call from the street. They each raised a hand, waved a slight wave, and whispered, “Merry Christmas.” And then they were gone, back to their families and the jumble and noise and lights of the parade, which was just ending. Sleigh bells jingled merrily, sounding distant and pure. Carols faded down the street.

Thoughtful GirlThey returned to their homes that night, wrapped in very deep thoughts. Before climbing into bed they prayed, each of them, for the people in the box. They prayed for their health and happiness and comfort and peace. And as they lay on their beds, their TVs untouched, they thought about those people, and about all the people like them, and about themselves, and about the real meaning of Christmas.

And they thought about how good it felt to give so freely to others, not expecting anything in return. But most of all they thought about a child born in a manger a long time ago, one who was very poor but who gave so much so freely to others. And they realized that remembering that child and giving as he did is what Christmas is all about. And they thought about what they would do the next day.

And sleep was a long time coming.
Seeing Bethlehem