Among our family Christmas traditions is Christmas Eve communion. This tradition didn’t start until I was in college. At that time, the pastor at the church I grew up in started serving come and go communion and this tradition continues today. Even before this tradition started, we would go to my grandparents’ house on Christmas Eve. When this started, the family would go to church as a large group and receive communion.
My grandmother had health issues and couldn’t get around very good anymore. She could have probably used a cane or a walker but she refused. She had seven strong young grandsons that could help her get around, why would she use a cane? It took her a little longer to get into the church that year but as long as she hung on to the arms of a couple of her grandsons, she was happy. That year was still early on in the history of the church doing Christmas Eve communion. Our family gathered around the pastor who was standing at the side of the front of the sanctuary. First, he served us the small communion crackers. Next, he served us juice in the small communion shot glasses. My grandmother was one of the last ones he served. He would normally say a little about the communion before he would pray and dismiss us. He didn’t make it to the prayer when my grandmother started making noises. I can make the noise better than I can describe it. It was like she was doing a very bad Chewbacca impression. Why was grandma making these Wookiee noises? She’s never seen Star Wars! She did it again and the pastor realized what was happening. He shouted, “She choking! Someone get some water!” We all stood there watching as she continued to make the same bizarre noise. The pastor saw that no one was going to move so he ran in the direction of the kitchen. The rest of us just stood there except for my oldest cousin who was standing next to her. What she did can best be described as pounding our grandmother on the back as she shouted, “Come on Grandma! Cough it up!” I don’t remember her ever actually coughing but between the pounding and the Wookiee sounds, the juice that was blocking her windpipe had cleared. When the pastor got there with the water, she didn’t want it for fear that she would choke on it too.
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