29 December MMXVII
“A Child, A Child
Shivers in the cold
Let us bring Him silver and gold
Let us bring Him silver and gold”
I have always loved the Christmas octave. The week between Christmas Day and the new year retains all of the loveliness of Christmas without all of the hurrying. I treasure quiet time by the twinkling tree after all of the gifts are opened and the stockings are, once again, empty. When my babies were tiny, there were many midnight hours treasured nursing newborns by the light of our Christmas tree. Those rocking chair moments are carved into my heart for eternity. They are among the most holy and sacred encounters of my maternity.
Historically, this late December week-in-between has fostered nostalgia. It has been fertile ground for smiles and tears recalling Christmas Past…giving root to memories of people who joined me in those Christmases but who are no longer here for Christmas now. It has been a week to savor Christmas Present once the Christmas morning “deadline” has come and gone. I have soaked up children still in Christmas pajamas until lunch on cold days because they are out of school and all home together in our common, still tinseled, nest. It has been a spring board for bitter sweet contemplation of Christmas future as colleges await on our horizon and I glimpse too-soon Christmases when my babies will only be home as visitors. It is a week of both sweet sentiment and quiet ache tucked tenderly into a quiet enclave of time to digest them both a bit.
Two years ago at Christmas when we were waiting to get to Song-Felicity, I was longing so deeply to get to her that I thought my heart could not possibly hurt more. I was wrong. While my arms ached to hold her, I could comfort my heart by seeing frequent pictures of her growing and smiling and gaining weight. We could see emailed images of her with the Christmas gifts we sent across the sea and, though she did not know they were Christmas gifts, we did. And knowing that Christmas had extended to her through us comforted my heart more than I even knew at the time.
Our family joyfully “adopted” 2 children in foster care this Christmas. They are both infants about the age of our baby who waits. I threw myself into choosing the things I would treasure witnessing under our tree for our baby. I wrapped them in the same sparkly red paper I had chosen for all of our children’s gifts and was deeply aware that a significant part of me was wrapping them for my own child…a child who also waits this Christmas in an orphanage or foster care…praying that some far away Mama is caring for my baby as her own until I can get there to tend to my precious one myself.
This Christmas stings so much more than I could have believed possible only two years ago. This year, I know I have a child waiting and without me at Christmas but I do not yet know who he or she is. I cannot reassure myself that my baby is warm or full or that cries are met with tenderness. The not knowing is so much harder than the knowing…so much harder than I could have imagined before I encountered this experience of tangibly holding a child in my heart whom I have never seen. Nothing in my life has been quite so painful as imagining the unanswered cries of a child for a mother and knowing that the mother is me.
A far away baby waits for me. Maybe in cold and maybe in hunger and maybe in too many unthinkable conditions for my maternal heart to carry. Within this awareness, I have found myself this Christmas Present approaching the manger as a mother desperate to get to her baby. And I find myself on my knees pleading with the Child waiting there to get me to one who waits now so very much like He did.
The Child, The Child
Sleeping in the night
He will bring us goodness and light
He will bring us goodness and light