Easter weekend 2001, we discovered to our utter amazement that we were expecting a baby. From a due date calculator, we also discovered our child would be born right around Christmas. Though our son’s birth was nine months away, a Christmas dream was born in that instant.
In it I would be sitting beside the tree, the soft glow of colored lights washing over me as I held my newborn child, perhaps humming a lullaby. All would be calm. All would be bright.
My little Christmas present came into the world on Dec. 20th, screaming and pooping and needing to nurse every two hours. Somebody managed to catch a photo of McLeod with our bundle of joy by the tree once we arrived home from the hospital, but a few hours later, that new daddy was sucker-punched by the flu and thus, quarantined from junior and me for several days .
For my part, I have only a hazy memory of Christmas. Mostly I remember the sounds of a super deluxe breast pump–I DO remember relating more to the “cattle lowing” than anything else from the Christmas carols. I also remember being too sore to sit much of anywhere, much less on the floor by the tree.
Looking back, though, I realize I probably felt a whole lot more like that first mom on that first Christmas than her idealized portrait in nativity scenes and favorite carols. Tired. Overwhelmed. A bit cranky. Learning to trust that she could protect and provide for a child.
Of course Mary’s baby was not just a child. He was THE child. The One foretold by Isaiah:
For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (9:6)
I’m wondering, though, if Jesus didn’t feel very much like Mighty God that first Christmas. If Mary felt more like every one of us who has screamed and sweated and strained to birth a child, could it be that Jesus felt like every bleary-eyed newborn desperate for food and comfort?
For all the powerful, regal, and immortal descriptors foretold of Christ, Isaiah 7:14 also adds this one: Immanuel.
To become Immanuel—God WITH us—was to become human LIKE us, to submit to the journey of real life in a tender, mortal body so that He might save all tender, mortal humans once and for all.
I may not have had my Christmas dream exactly how I imagined it, but I’d say being awake to the reality of what Jesus did for us by coming on that first Christmas is a far better gift.
Merry Christmas, friends, and may you experience all Christ has for you in the New Year!