"And the angel said to them, "Be not afraid; for behold I bring you good nes of a great joy which will come to all the people; for to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger." - Luke 2:10-12Ah here it is, Christmas Eve, and I have a confession to make - I have been having a very difficult time finding any Christmas spirit. I want to have it, but between the nausea, vomiting, fatigue, headaches, and feelings of starvation and dehydration I have been fighting, well... its been a bit of a struggle for me this year.
But tonight, as I drug myself out of pajamas and bed (yes, tonight, I'd been sick all day with my amazing husband and wonderful children caring for me) I got ready for mass and off we went. And of course, we were late. Which was my fault because it took me forever to get ready, and even then I looked haphazard and rough, but I figured it would have to do, and we entered the church with standing room only and were relegated to the back of the narthex next to the nativity scene and empty manger. And then, an amazing thing happened. The procession began, to bless the nativity. And my family got to stand right next to Father as he blessed the nativity, and reminded me of what Christmas is about. The incense filled my nose and my being, like a wrap of comfort and hope and peace, and I felt better than I have felt in weeks. It did not last long, but in that moment, I felt such joy. We watched as the baby Jesus was placed right in front of us into the manger. I felt my slightly growing stomach and I now pray that God will forgive me for my selfishness during this pregnancy so far. For all of my complaints, and yes, even the feelings of doubt of having this baby because I have been feeling so sick. I ask my mother Mary, to keep me in her prayers and to ask for intercession for me. That even if I do not feel better, I will remember that moment by the manger this evening. Mary must have struggled far more than I, but as a mother she also must feel such empathy for me in what I am going through, and I know she will lift me up in prayer to her Son.
As my children watched the blessing of the nativity, I realized how all these little things - like being late - came together in such a perfect moment for what MY family needed most this year. What an incredible blessing on this Christmas Eve.
And now, as I log off to go and decorate our tree with the kids, tuck them in bed, and finish all the last minute things for tomorrow, I leave you with these words from Pope Benedict XVI on this Christmas Eve.
"Today Christmas has become a commercial celebration, whose bright lights hide the mystery of God's humility, which in turn calls us to humility and simplicity, ...Let us ask the Lord to help us see through the superficial glitter of this season, and to discover behind it the child in the stable in Bethlehem, so as to find true joy and true light."
From our family to yours,
have a very blessed and merry Christmas!