Monday, December 22, 2014

A Spider at Christmastime

How the "Legend of the Christmas Spider" Saved My Sanity

Christmastime, 2011
Mom, I can't eat my lunch until you kill the spider on the ceiling!

It's OK. It's pretty far away from you. And it's really little.

Mom, stand on something and get it!

I've been sick, kiddo. I'm not going to climb on the bench or I'll get dizzy. If the spider gets down to the wall let me know and I'll take it outside.

Mom, it's going to get me! 

We can't kill spiders unless they attack us because of the Christmas Peace. (Ancient Norse custom coming in handy here as a stalling tactic.)

Mom. Mom! MOM!

Maybe it's a Christmas Spider. We'd better leave it alone.


Do you know the "Legend of the Christmas Spider"?

A long time ago, when the Baby Jesus was born in Bethlehem, Mary and Joseph were asleep in the stable with the baby, when suddenly an angel appeared to Joseph in a dream. The angel told Joseph that they had to get up right away because King Herod was sending soldiers to kill the Baby Jesus, and they should hide in Egypt until it was safe. Joseph woke up from the dream and got Mary and Jesus ready and put them on the donkey and they left Bethlehem in the night.

Mary was so tired though from having a baby that she needed to rest, so they laid down in a little cave by the side of the road. Herod's soldiers nearly caught up with them and were getting close. A little spider in the cave could see that the holy family needed protection, so he spun a cobweb to cover the cave to hide them and the soldiers passed by. Baby Jesus was safe! And ever since then, a white cross has appeared on the back of certain spiders at Christmastime to thank them for this good deed.


Let's see if it has a white cross on it's back. Maybe it's a Christmas spider!

Maybe. If it gets close enough for us to see, we can check. But in the mean time, how about you just move to the other end of the table?


This is a mash-up of at least two stories: a saint's legend from Sixty Saints for Boys and assorted stories about the Holy Family interacting with flora and fauna, such as the rosemary plant being gifted with its white flowers turned to blue in gratitude for being a drying spot for Mary's blue cloak.

Storytelling is a skill that every parent should keep in their back pocket, if only to keep yourself from going bonkers. At least you can amuse yourself making up a story while trying to get your child to stop whining about this or that for three minutes.

Best case scenario, you've redirected your child's temporary state of dissatisfaction with life to a long term deposit into their treasure bank of imagination and knowledge, or at least contemplation of what a strange person mom is and what did it mean? Either way, it buys you precious moments of peace.

This is also how I know I am turning into an old woman. I'm going to be that tiresome old person who makes every one stop and listen to a long-winded and fanciful explanation for why the yew tree is the symbol of both long life and death, or why blackberries should be picked before September 29, when all they really want to know is whether the bus is on time and which stop to get out at for Target.

I managed to get out and mail Christmas cards and packages this morning. Half of us are still under the weather, but it's the under-15 half, so the oldest and I are getting back to normal and Christmas preparations are underway. I also discovered a packet of gluten free lebkuchen I had squirreled away for the holiday, so things are looking up.

Wherever you are, and whoever you may be, I wish you Peace. May you know the peace of Christ at Christmastime and always.

Keep watch! Christ is coming!
Prepare! Christmas is coming!
Rejoice! The Lord is near!
He is coming to dwell with us.
Come, let us adore him!

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