- Record needle scratch--
Sunshine flooded the living room through the large, south-facing bay window. Our trusty, artificial Christmas tree stood resplendent with countless memories and quirky ornaments, mementos my mom gave us each year depicting some important milestone. There's the ornament I got when I started elementary school. That one's from the year I started gymnastics. . .
It was a typical, glorious Christmas morning. Even the presents seemed familiar. They contained different items from year to year, of course, but there was always the same amount (probably too many), and they were always impeccably wrapped, beribboned and bedazzled, and labelled with things like, "To Sarah, from Rudolph."
My sister and I had been taking it all in, waiting impatiently for my dad to get out of bed--he liked to sleep in on Christmas morning just to torture us. Finally, we all gathered in the living room, still in our pajamas, ready to dive in and uncover our treasures one by one, as was our custom.
My mom disappeared upstairs and returned with the enormous, impractical, black leather Bible with the gilded page edges that sits on her dresser.
"We should read out of the Bible first."
My sister and I freaked out in unison.
So jarring, so out of character was this request, I took it as a direct attack on me. I had recently come out as an "atheist."
"Mom! What are you doing? We never read the Bible, why do we have to start right now?!"
"Well. . . You shouldn't be opening Christmas presents if you don't believe in Jesus."
I became distraught. Cursing her and her efforts, I stormed upstairs to my room, clamped my headphones on, and blasted some Linkin Park into my misunderstood soul.