I scroll through my phone and stare at another Christmas party post.
Smiling faces beam back at me as I rock my sleeping babe and wish mine was wedged between them. Praying she won’t wake, I dance to my daughter’s crib and put her down as softly as possible.
Immediately, she cries. Breathing deep, I stand there a moment with a small glimmer of hope that she’ll calm.
This was my life a year ago. It was my first holiday season with a baby girl I desired for years. I remember fighting tears and thinking about the irony of it all. I’d waited months for this time but all I wanted was sleep. I’d longed to see her face, but then wondered how such a tiny thing could scream with such force.
Before leaving the hospital, the nurse told us not to bring her into crowds for a month. Winter illnesses were already hitting kids full force, and we didn’t want to risk exposing her.
Although I was glad to be home, the walls seemed like they were closing in on me.
I realized she wasn’t going back to sleep so I picked her up and plopped her in the queen bed next to my husband’s warm body. She was quiet. I tried to recall everything I loved about the season, but felt like a prisoner in my own home.
There was one promise that carried me through the next few weeks: Christmas day visitors. But when my husband confirmed no one was coming, all of my expectations of a perfect afternoon full of house guests were crushed with one phone call. And at that, I opened another bag of peppermint bark and let the self-pity flow.
My recliner was my best friend in a far too quiet house. But then, with a gentle nudge from God, I remembered the story of another mom. A mother whose expectations of the day we call Christmas probably weren’t filled with stables and barn animals. And yet, when we read the account of Jesus’ birth, we don’t see any indication of her feelings about this imperfect turn of events.
Could we imagine the Christmas story being any different?
We don’t see anger or sadness or bitterness from Mary over the circumstances surrounding our Savior’s entrance into the world.
Even if she felt these things, we don’t have record of it. But the writer does note one response from Mary: quiet reflection. When the shepherds come and recount their experience with the angels in the field, Luke says Mary, “treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.” (Luke 2:19 ESV)
Ah, yes. Quiet. Time to ponder and reflect. When did I forget these were gifts?
While wishing for Christmas parties, house guests and outings, I overlooked the beauty right in front of me.
Peace and reprieve from the hustle. Uninterrupted time with my newborn. And most of all, time to ponder the love of a Creator who became a newborn, too. For me.
Our holiday season is usually filled with so much stress and running, we barely have time to breathe. But this year God said, “Sit. Rest. Just be with me a while and let go of the to-do list.”
I could spend all my time wishing for a packed schedule, or I could rest in the gift of quiet solitude. I could heal. I could savor.
As I rocked my daughter for another night of patchy sleep, I drank in the scent of her. She smelled like Dreft, baby powder and all things girly.
“Don’t miss this,” said the whisper in my heart.
And because this time I was paying attention, I didn’t.