“Hey, boys, come on in here, lunch is ready.”
“We’ll be there in a second, grandpa,” Jason called out from the tree house.
“OK, Kevin, this is what we do.” As Jason pulled his new pocket knife that he had received for Christmas from his pants pocket, Kevin’s ten-year-old eyes grew wide with awe. Kevin couldn’t help but be a little bit jealous of his twelve-year-old cousin. Grandpa made it a rule that the year the grandkids, both girls and boys, turned twelve – he gave them a true Swiss Army knife. Not a no-name brand, but the real thing. Jason handed the small tweezers to Kevin to inspect, but quickly took them back and slid them into the holder at the side of the knife. “Hold your hand out straight and keep your thumb stiff.”
Kevin was nervous and kept curling his hand into a fist. “Come on, Kevin, this is how we do it. You’re my best friend, aren’t you? I’ve heard our dads talk about being blood brothers before. The only way to do it is to cut our thumbs and rub them together. But – if you’re afraid…”
“I’m not afraid,” Kevin called out to Jason as he pushed his hand forward.
“OK, then…here we go,” Jason said as he pulled the small blade from the knife and locked it in place.
“Boys, your lunch is ready. What are you doing up there?” called out grandpa again.
Kevin said, “Maybe we should have lunch and then do it…”
“You chicken?” sneered Jason.
“Go ahead, just do it,” Kevin responded.
Jason sat there for a second, studying his new knife. Grabbing at his younger cousin’s outstretched hand; he held his thumb solidly between his left thumb and forefinger as he drew the knife blade across the broad side of Kevin’s thumb. A quick gasp of breath was all that was heard as the blood began to appear on Kevin’s thumb and the edge of the knife.
“In one minute I’m coming up into that tree house to see what you boys are doing,” yelled grandpa. This time grandpa’s voice was quite insistent.
“Hurry up, Jason, do yours,” Kevin said.
“OK, OK, Kevin.” As Jason placed the edge of the blade against his thumb, he privately wished that he didn’t have to do it. But there was no turning back now. He couldn’t let his younger cousin go telling everyone that he wouldn’t do it. He pulled the knife into his thumb and the blood began to pool on the surface.
“Cool,” said Kevin.
Jason put the knife down on his knee and said, “Now we need to put our thumbs together, mixing out blood. That’s what makes up blood brothers. We share blood and share our lives. At least that’s what I heard our dads say one night.”
The floor of the tree house shuddered and both boys jumped to their feet. “We’re coming grandpa,” they said in unison.
“What are you boys doing up there?” Grandpa said in a gruff voice.
Jason replied, “Sorry, grandpa, we’re coming right now.” Both boys wiped their thumbs on their blue jeans and hoped that grandpa did not see the spot on the pants or the new cuts.
The boys climbed down the ladder, and shoved their left hands into the pockets of their pants as soon as they put their last foot on the ground.
“Hmmmm,” said grandpa.
As they ate their sandwiches, grandpa began to tell them a story. Since grandpa loved to tell stories, they thought nothing of it when he began to talk.
“Blood sacrifices are as old as the Bible times, boys. Making a covenant usually meant there was going to be bloodshed. The most important thing you can ever do for someone else is to confirm your service and love by a true blood covenant or promise. The most important one in history was when Jesus died on the cross. What was different about that one was that He gave his blood, but you don’t have to give yours to receive his promise. It’s a bit different than blood brothers as we know it. When you mix your blood with someone else’s, it’s a mutual thing. Imagine what it means that you get the promise made without having to give as much in return.”
As both boys looked knowingly at one another, grandpa got up and moved to the kitchen drawer. He retrieved two band aids from the drawer and reached for Kevin’s hand. Kevin put his left hand into his grandpa’s and waited while the small cut was covered. Jason was next. When both the cuts were covered, grandpa held out his hand.
Jason placed the new pocketknife in grandpa’s palm.
“I’ll give your knife to your daddy and he’ll give it back when he is sure you’re ready. Now, you boys can tell your daddies about your bein’ blood brothers, but let your daddies tell your mommies. The girls don’t really get it,” grandpa said.
Ten minutes later the boys were back in the tree house. They looked at the Spiderman band aids wrapped on their thumbs and smiled.
“You know, I think Jesus might have liked a Spiderman band aid,” said Kevin.
To be ten years old again…
(photo courtesy of sxc.hu/annette)