42. The Big Squeeze

42. The Big Squeeze

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Merry Christmas!

The Big Squeeze

It is the personal thoughtfulness, the warm human awareness, the reaching out of the self to one’s fellow man that makes giving worthy of the Christmas spirit.

~Isabel Currier

In 1990, our church congregation was in the process of having a new sanctuary built. We had hoped that it would be finished in time for Christmas. Our membership had more than quadrupled, and we had to start having three services on Sunday mornings to accommodate everyone. There were many occasions when worshippers would be standing along the walls and seated in the vestibule, especially if we were having a program in the evening or a concert. As it sometimes goes with construction schedules, we were not going to have our building completed in time for our annual Christmas concert.

The night of the concert, my daughters and I arrived early in order to get a seat. The church was already filling up. By 7:00 p.m. the church was packed. There were many people standing when one of the deacons went up to the pulpit. His face was somber.

“Fellow members,” he announced. “I regret to tell you that there will be a delay in our Christmas concert tonight. There is a representative from the fire marshal’s office here, and, due to fire safety laws, we have been told that all persons standing and/or blocking the doors or aisles must leave or the concert will be cancelled.” The groans and moans that went through the church that evening were mingled with the many expressions of disbelief and disappointment. Then strangely, for a moment, everything became very quiet.

I then was a part of, and witness to, what I feel was a most extraordinary demonstration of true Christmas spirit. People started squeezing together in those pews just as tight as they could get. Parents pulled children onto their laps, wives sat on husbands’ laps, sisters on brothers’ laps, and more and more until everyone who had been standing could squeeze into the already crowded pews. Soon, there was not one person left standing! A round of applause went through our church that night that brought a little tingle to my heart and tears to my eyes.

That fire marshal representative just shook his head in disbelief as he turned and walked out of the church. And somehow, I enjoyed that Christmas concert better than any other.

~Jackie Smith-Thrasher

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