Christmas has always had a special place in my heart. I know – that statement gets thrown around like a bad cliché. But it’s true; this special day and the days that lead up to it have always left me breathless. It goes beyond the twinkling lights, festive packages, and family gatherings — it’s found in the season’s meaningfulness and the renewal of one’s spirit.
That fact has proven even truer since becoming a mom. I’m tough on my boys, that’s a fact. Too tough at times. I am hard and very much the epitome of a “momma bear”. But they are my world. My three reasons for getting over myself (or attempting to, anyway) and facing the challenges of adulthood and parenthood, alike. My kids have given Christmas a completely new magic for me as well. Sure, I love watching their eyes light up at the sight of a Christmas display. I love that they tell me about the cool, new toys that Santa may bring. I love how they think of others and what cheerful, giving hearts they have. However, I think the most magical thing to me of all where they are concerned is the one thing about Jesus’ mother, Mary, that I can relate to.
I cannot relate to the period of time in which she lived or the every-day struggles she faced in that era. I can’t relate to her being pregnant before marriage and the scorn she may have received because, while I have been an unwed mother, I did not face the criticism that she likely did. I don’t know what it must have felt like to ride upon a donkey nine months pregnant. I cannot fathom what it had to be to know she was carrying the King of Kings in her belly and how humbled and terrified she must have felt.
And, while I do not (and hopefully will never know) what it feels to know that my child will face very distinctive struggles, I do know what it is to be scared for them. The comparison is bold if not completely asinine, I know. Obviously, I will never know the grief of watching my child grow to be the sacrifice of a world so undeserving. I’ll never know the pained pride of watching that child so diligently and humbly pick up that burden. I will never know the angst, knowing that my child could die for something ultimately, by human account and motherly standpoint, so worthless.
But I do know the love that filled my heart the moment my eyes caught their first glimpse of my children. I know the pain I feel when they are sick, hurt, or sad. I know the disappointment that floods my soul when they require discipline, as children do. I have felt their pride in every accomplishment they have achieved and their discouragement when they feel less due to failure. I have looked into their eyes knowing that I would die for them, kill for them, and give it all up for them. I am their mother. They are my children. For them I would walk the world.
Unfortunately, that is where my relatability to Mary ends. I envy her gift and feel sorrow for her pain.
My heart swells with sadness but also with gratitude when I think of the sacrifice that was born to die. I look at the faces of my own babies and wonder how on earth she gathered the strength to give such a priceless gift. I wonder what I would have done had I been in her place. Would I have been so selfless? I assure you, I would not have been. And I choke up when I think of her watching her baby crawl out of her arms and walk into a fate created by man.
To think of how it could have been. To consider the “what if”. It’s heart wrenching. It is bittersweet. It is humbling. It is hard.
My boys drive me to the brink. I have yelled over the Christmas tree and dared them to open gifts. I have rushed them through the aisles of Target, Walmart, and the mall, citing “running late” as a reason not to slow my pace. I have been unforgiving and harsh and not always consistent. However, today I am humbled. Today I remember. I tonight, amidst the chaos, clutter, and Christmas gift wrapping I will hug my children and love them a little harder. I will be grateful that I am not in the place of Mary; that my children have received a gift that is irreplaceable and glorious. The gift we celebrate this season is not wrapped, battery operated, or expensive. It isn’t the newest tech or biggest display. The gift was given in the form of a baby, born into the humblest of origins, to a world who didn’t deserve such a kindness.
If I do nothing else right in my walk as a mother, I hope I teach my kids the beauty of this sacrifice and the strength that was born out of it. I hope my little ones will one day cling to the knowledge that they are never alone. My wish is that they will celebrate the birth of our Savior every day of their lives – not just at Christmastime. I hope they become good, strong men who walk the walk and talk the talk in ways I have never succeeded. Above all, I hope they grow to know how precious they are to me and how grateful I am for my own three gifts.
Merry Christmas to y’all. Until next year, friends!