When Christmas Eve is Anything But a Silent Night

As I gazed at the lit snowflakes hanging in my window, I thought about how I’ve never understood people complaining about the holiday season being stressful. Like those snowflakes reflecting light and warmth, Christmas has so easily always accomplished the same in my heart year after year.

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But as I realized this year, Christmas has basically always gone the way I wanted it and how I planned it. Time with family, Christmas Eve service, Christmas Day breakfast, etc. This year, we added not only a ten month old baby to our plans, but a sick one. I had grand plans of traditions we would get to experience with him, but few went as planned. On Christmas Eve the baby wasn’t able to attend our family gathering, and for the first time in my life, I wasn’t at church on Christmas Eve. My husband and I had an argument, and our Silent Night was anything but silent or peaceful.

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For days I felt such a sense of loss, knowing I would never get our baby’s first Christmas back, and a time meant for spiritual reflection and renewal was wasted. But, that’s not true, is it? As children of light we find purpose in imperfection, times of suffering, and seemingly insignificant moments. The babe, the Prince of Peace, was still in the manger, whether I was singing my heart out at midnight mass, or rocking a sick baby and arguing with my spouse. In fact, that’s why the baby is there, swaddled and snug at Mary’ breast, destined to save me and to save you. Still showing us how futile our stubborn plans are, still reconciling spouses, still healing sick children.

I didn’t miss my opportunity, and neither did you.

O Come Let Us Adore Him

Waiting With Mary

Last Advent I was seven months pregnant. Maybe I was too self-absorbed at the time focusing on my numerous pregnancy ailments, but I did not take time to reflect on that unique moment in my life as the advent of my son and the advent of Mary’s son coincided. I simply wanted the end of my pregnancy to come, and the beginning of our life as a family of three to begin. Even as I neglected the opportunity to experience Advent in a particular way last year, I am better prepared to experience it more deeply this year because now I know the value of waiting, of enduring, of anticipation.

This year I will wait during this season quietly and patiently with Mary, not because we share the same physical state of pregnancy, but because I know what awaits us on the other side. I am joining her as one who has already experienced the pain and ultimate joy of birth. I will wait with her full of hope because I know what is on the other side. Redemption.

O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.