The Practical Miracle of Birth, and Christmas

Christmas is an easy holiday to love. There are trees with twinkling lights, cookies and hot cocoa, holiday parties and feasts, and children singing Christmas carols. And behind it all, there’s a newborn baby, bringing peace, hope and redemption to a troubled world.

I am a mother. While my babies were not born in a stable, and no angels heralded their arrival, I understand the promise and gift of a child. Newborns haven’t yet been labelled or judged. They are pure, distilled human potential, and the moment that they arrive is sanctified and holy, regardless of the location or circumstances. I believe that all people feel this. You can see it in the way that we react to newborns, and even pregnant women. We feel the promise of new life, and it resonates with us. This is the feeling that Christmas brings out in me.

Cuddling at 8 weeks
Me with baby Hannah

Every birth is miraculous. It means the continuation of humanity’s existence. It means two people where just before there was only one. It means one person putting herself on the line for the sake of another. It is the beginning of decades of life, and the creation of a new family order. There is hope in birth, and mystery. What will this child become? Who is this new little person? How will this baby change things?

Resting together
Newborn Jacob, his hair still wet

Every birth is also deeply practical. Both of mine reached a point where I pushed only because I had no choice. Pregnancy takes its course, and a child arrives, one way or another. And then you make the adjustments, because you have to. You get up in the middle of the night and feed the baby, because you have to. You buy diapers and a car seat and little baby clothes because you have to. You eventually figure out systems and rhythms and routines to make the whole experience flow a little more smoothly, but parenthood is far more poopy diapers and 3am feedings than moments of transcendence.

CARAVAGGIO Rest during the flight from Egypt, detail of Mary and Jesus, c1597
Photo credit: carulmare on Flickr

When I consider the Christmas story – a young couple, traveling, welcoming their baby in a stable – I see both the miraculous and practical. Of course, the fact that the story also includes a star pointing the way and a heavenly host praising God amps up the miraculous level a little more than usual. But at its heart, it’s still a birth story. It’s the arrival of a new human being, full of promise and potential, who we hope will grow into someone great.

Tonight, I will make merry and eat turkey and read stories aloud. I will help my children write a note for Santa, and leave out a plate of cookies and a glass of milk. I will remind them (over and over) that they have to go to sleep if they want Santa to come, and I will remind them to come and get me before they go look at the tree. I will stay up late wrapping. I will fill stockings and light up the tree. And before I finally go to sleep I will visit my sleeping children, and remember the practical miracles of their own births. Those moments when they came into being, and changed my life, whether I was ready or not.

Merry Christmas! I will not be posting on a regular schedule next week, so let me take this chance to wish you all the best, and thank you for sharing this past year with me. It means so much.

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Comments

  1. Blessings to you and your family, Amber! Have a merry, merry Christmas!

    xox

  2. Beautiful post! I’ve been feeling disconnected today, in the middle of all the sewing, painting, packing, wrapping, laundry, cleaning, and baking. And then this post popped up on my FB just as I was sitting down for five minutes to nurse the baby. Thanks, and Merry Christmas!

  3. How lovely! It’s good to slow down and really think about this Christmas Eve. Have a merry day tomorrow and next week!
    Lauren @ Hobo Mama’s last post … Wordless Wednesday: It’s beginning to look a lot like ChristmasMy Profile

  4. Thank you for your wonderful post Amber. Merry Christmas to you and your family.

  5. I love this post. And your newborn photos give me the fever hard. The baby fever that is. 🙂

  6. Merry Christmas!

  7. Oh, Merry Christmas! I think those same things…

    Love,
    Steph
    Adventures In Babywearing’s last post … Merry Christmas 2011My Profile

  8. Beautiful post, Amber.

  9. Beautiful post, Amber. I don’t have children or celebrate Christmas, but this brought tears to my eyes.
    Beth Terry’s last post … Mark P’s Plastic-free Homemade Tomato KetchupMy Profile

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