The thing I remember most about Henrik’s first Christmas is that he was still screaming. I don’t know if he was colicky, or if it was just his personality (I’d bet all my presents under the tree that it’s the latter). Three months into my life as a mother, I all of a sudden was thrown into a new understanding of the story of Christmas.
For me, this sacred holiday became focused on Mary. Not her virginity, or her holiness – but her motherhood. Mary was a new mom. She gave birth (Labor! Delivery!) to her beautiful baby in a barn full of stinky animals and hay and dirt. And now she had this new baby that wanted to nurse throughout the day and night, that needed constant rocking, and probably some swaying or bouncing to calm his new worldly nerves. That cradle wasn’t just designed for the pretty church nativities – she Needed that cradle to get him to fall asleep – To soothe her screaming baby. And after the angels had gone, and everyone had brought their pretty gifts, the crying probably got worse. And the everyday of motherhood became a stark reality.
Believe in Mary as Jesus’ mother, as the Virgin Mary, as the mother of the Savior, as a vital part of the Christmas story, as holy – or just another woman in the history of womankind – there is something about her story that every mother can understand.
Who of you has gotten your face so close to your babe’s that you could feel his breath, and hear her small movements? Who has held him, swaddled, shhing her till you can see her little eyelashes come to complete stillness and feel your own heart slowed? Who of you has stared into his eyes, and saw the Hope that she could bring to this world? The love, the grace, the kindness, the care. Angels or just a starry sky, gifts of Myrrh or just an empty bag, Mary was a momma who knew her job was great. Who knew her job was a gift, who knew that it would take sacrifice, sleepless nights, and worry beyond compare. She shed tears, she loved deeper than she ever understood or would ever comprehend. We all know how Mary must have felt that night, and those months, and years and year and years to come.
You and me – and Mary – we’re raising hope for the world, the feet on this earth, the ones that will bring in human form, in my understanding, God’s love to all. They will make the decisions that help, strengthen, Give.
Moms all around the world, Peace, Love and Strength to you all this Christmas. Shalom.