By the time I got through the song and to the other side of the stage it was obvious to me that I was "hauling out" a lot more than the holly. I was hauling around a kindergartner. After all, forty pounds is the weight of the average five-year-old. I came off the side of the stage huffing and puffing like the Big Bad Wolf but without enough breath to blow anything down.
My oldest son, Stephen, handed me a bottle of water.
I tried to make light of my breathlessness, though it was frightening me.
"I need more than a little Christmas. I need a little oxygen!!"
He wasn't laughing. He had something to tell me. He had been elected by the rest of my children to give me a message.
"Mom," he said, "we think you're beautiful no matter what you weigh, but we want you to start taking care of yourself."
I tried to calm his worries. "Sweetheart, I'll be fine."
He continued. "You don't understand. We need you. We want you to be around for us and for our kids, too. Please, Mom. What would we do without you?"