My baby girl, Lauren, is now a mother to two small boys herself. Walking into her house a few weeks ago, I was immediately greeted by my two-year-old grandson, Bo. “Grammie, come see, come see!” he squealed, leading me to a beautiful wooden creche Omu, his paternal grandmother, had sent him. Taking my hand in his tiny one, he began introducing me to all the statues.
“That’s Meree, that’s the daddy, these guys take care of the sheep, and that’s an angel,” he announced, pointing to the only one with wings. “And Baby Genius will go right there.”
Giggling, I asked, “Baby who?”
He gave me a quizzical look, as if to say, what’s wrong with you, don’t you know? Then he stood a little straighter, proud to know something I didn’t. “Baby Genius,” he shouted, smiling. “Meree’s baby.” His little hand now directed me to the woman on her knees, head bowed low. “He’ll come on Christmas morning.”
Over the next several weeks, the Neville house was filled with Christmas joy. Each morning, Sprinkles, the elf on a shelf, would find a new place to hide, leading Bo on a massive search of hot and cold until he found him. There were Christmas carols blaring, lots of food, wine, and desserts every night, and talk of presents. And, of course, of being a good boy because Santa sees everything, especially with Sprinkles’ help.
And, while this is the stuff that makes the holiday fun, each day at book time, as Bo and I sat on the couch with his baby brother, McCoy, I circled back to the genius kid, born and laid on a bed of straw surrounded by a bunch of noisy animals.
“Look Bo, there’s Baby Jesus with his mommy and daddy.” I turned to the page of Christ’s birth in the picture Bible. “He is a very special baby.” And, each time I said His name, Bo corrected me. “Grammie, you silly goose, His name is Baby Genius! Not Gheezus.” After about the fourth time, I stopped saying His proper name for I began to wonder if perhaps my grandson knew something I didn’t.
Whether you believe in the religious teachings that Christ was the Son of God, or just some highly enlightened soul, perhaps the greatest prophet of all time, there is no denying Jesus changed the world with his words. Not with pontificating, not by belittling or bullying those who might not agree with his vision, and not through any type of force. No, Jesus changed the thinking of all men and woman by using simple language that everyone could understand—words of compassion, empathy, kindness, and unconditional love.
I once read that the true test of a person’s genius is not just their intelligence and how it appears on paper, but in the effectiveness of their thoughts and performance. That was a skill Jesus had down to perfection. His message was basic on how to live a wonderful and peaceful life—let go of the ego and lead with the heart, for ourselves and our fellow man.
There is no denying we’re living in very difficult times. People are hyper-focused on what they have to do or their devices, often missing the opportunity to look up and smile at their neighbor. Or worse, they don’t even want to know their neighbors because they seem different or strange. In other words, they’re not like us. How I want the world to change for my grandchildren. I don’t like where things are going. But as with most difficult worldly things, I wonder what I can do. I’m only one person. Then I’m reminded of Gandhi’s words: “Be the change you want to see in the world.” Change has to start somewhere—why not with me?
So, while I’ll over-indulge my grandsons with every toy on Amazon’s hit parade because that’s just what Grammies do—we spoil—this Christmas I’m making a pledge to help guide them through the years as Christ once did with his flock.
We’ll talk about what it means to be kind, not to look nice but because it’s the right way to be. We’ll learn to share, not because Mommy says so but because some may not have all that we possess. Things are just things and should never be more important than love. But mostly, I’ll work with them on how to understand their feelings. Only as they understand themselves can they try to walk in someone else’s shoes and learn how to empathize and express their feelings for another. Maybe by traveling this life together, following Jesus’s message and example, the boys and I will discover our own genius on how to live a loving and compassionate life. I know it’s within us. I’ll be praying the world can find theirs too.
Thank you for reading and following my posts. It’s because of you, I continue to write. May this holiday season be a truly blessed one for you and your family. And, may your life going forward be filled with thoughts and deeds of pure genius.
And, to you, my precious friend
This is beautiful, Jackie! How wise and eloquent you are. And I love the joyous photos of you enjoying your gorgeous grandsons! Wishing you and yours a happy, healthy 2021, filled with optimism and kindness.
How I miss you!!! I pray 2021 will allow us cherished time together