And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. ~Luke 2:7
Let me begin by saying that I’m a mixed-bag when it comes to Christmas. I love old movies, cold nights, fireplaces, and carols. I enjoy decorating my house with lights and a tree. I also believe that Jesus was born in September and that our corporate consumerism in the December season in which we choose to celebrate His birth is an insult to His life and the message He preached. JD and I have agreed that our family will not exchange gifts at Christmas, opting instead to use what we would buy for presents for each other and help someone else in the community in need. We want our children to learn the joy in giving away and not learn to be ungrateful in a gimme-driven society. (Case-in-point, a recent Best Buy commercial I saw pitted a mom against Santa to see who could give the most presents to her family. “Game on, Santa”? Really? But, I digress.)
Despite the mixed emotions on the Christmas season, I can’t help but find my mind wandering to the Nativity story at this time of year. This year in particular, I feel a sudden kinship with the little girl who brought forth her firstborn, a son, and wrapped him in strips of cloth. As I examine the tiny crib awaiting my own firstborn son, I wonder if it pained her to lay Jesus’ tiny body in box where animals drooled and ate. She had no baby showers, no internet to explain to her the significance of a sciatic nerve or how many times He should kick in a two-hour period. She didn’t have a doctor monitoring her weight and hormone levels once a month as she carried Him. She didn’t even have her mother there to hold her hand and wipe sweat off of her brow when her time came. Instead, she spent time during the final weeks of her pregnancy traveling rutted roads far from home with a husband she was having to learn to trust.
She followed this husband to Egypt after Jesus was born, nursing Him on the journey without the benefit of a pacifier, numbing cream, or disposable diapers. She had no carseat or Boppy pillow to give relief to her arms and no blinking or singing toys to distract His attention; and she had the promise that a sword would pierce her heart. What a bittersweet time this was for her.
As we approach the season in which we celebrate Christ’s birth, I’m grateful that the little one I often feel having hiccups inside of me doesn’t have the responsibility of saving his people from their sins. I’m grateful for stacks of warm blankets on his changing table and the comforting warmth of his grandmother’s rocking chair beside his crib. I’m grateful no government agency is seeking his precious, little life. I’m grateful I can spend Thanksgiving week this year at home with my best friend and not have to walk or ride an animal to the city where he was born. God has been good to me.
As retailers gear up for their busiest season of the year and “Black Friday” looms over our heads, I don’t ask you to stop and “remember the reason for the season.” Plenty of others will do that for me (and, again, I believe His “season” was in September anyway). However, I would encourage you to stop and evaluate what is truly valuable in life. Thanksgiving should not be a day; it should be a lifestyle.