There are times when something a writer pens something that unknowingly changes things forever. Christmas Day, December of 2007, I wrote a new perspective on the day, and it has changed the way I look at Christmas. I recall it each year, and this year as I hold my sweet new grandchild, it is especially meaningful.
Tuesday, December 25, 2007
After about 4 hours of sleep, it was time to get up again and open presents, make breakfast, and shuffle back to bed. I found myself waking a second time at 11:30, wondering if it was too early to take down the Christmas lights, and if the stores were open today for after Christmas sales. During my morning (ok, early afternoon) run, I began to contemplate what Mary must have thought the morning after. If I thought my Christmas eve night was long – wrapping gifts, cooking dinner, getting to the 11pm church service almost on time – and if I thought I was tired this morning after picking up yards of wrapping paper mess and washing breakfast dishes, imagine how tired Mary must have felt. Talk about the ultimate holiday hangover. She’s barely old enough to know how to care for an infant, and she still wonders if Joseph can deal with the fact that the baby she delivered isn’t his. Labor & delivery in a strange place with no midwife or pain medication would have been difficult enough, but then throw in the whole host of angels, shepherds, wise men showing up… and to complicate things, her task was not only to raise a child, but to raise God’s human counterpart, and to protect him from those who wished to kill him. Or maybe her first moments as a mother on this Christmas morning may have brought her peace, instead.
The baby wakes, hungry, and Mary is completely dazed. She looks around and the angels are gone, and she thinks for a minute that it was all a dream. The sun is just rising, and the morning is still quiet. Her body still aches, but she rises and goes to her child, and he begins to nurse. The feel of his skin, the silkiness of his hair, the warmth of his body – in that moment, she’s like any, every, other mother on earth, feeling for the first time a completely selfless love and devotion toward her baby. As he nurses, she thinks not of the miracle of his conception and the hazy events of the night before, but she is fascinated by the fact that she is providing food from her body to nourish his. She touches his tiny hands, stokes his tiny feet, and examines his tiny ear. She had expected this baby, this Son of God, this King, to be strange to her, to be something possibly not quite human. But in this quiet moment, as she holds her child to her breast, he is her baby, hungry and small, and she is his mother.
Merry Christmas to you all, and may you experience the blessing of a gentle moment with the ones you love.
Photo source: stpeterslist.com