Merry Christmas to everyone.
I have been thinking about Christmas, the things that symbolize it and trigger that Christmassy thing from mulled cider and spices, to soaring accapella voices to the smell of pine and the quiet of the snow. But to me as a mother, I reflect on these carols with lyrics that include “Oh Come Let Us Adore Him” and I think about Mary.
Poor girl. Pregnant, married to some older dude foisted on her due to her condition which was very mythological as she concieved as a virgin (Think streams of gold coming down from the heavens as the Sienese painters portray it). There she was, stuck with a husband she had to deal with, the uncomfortable ride and walk to do something for the government (taxes and census stuff, but in today’s parlance, it could be a DMV violation for having a headlamp out), a big drag for someone who was pregnant without wanting to be so. Sure, the angel visited and brought her a lily, and announced in scroll talk that she was going to bear a child, a son etc…a heavenly trip to the OB/GYN without the blood tests…and I am soooo sure she was comforted by that unnatural occurance. It is scary enough to be pregnant and not fully knowing what the end game with the birth might be, but alone in foreign country with an old coot as a husband and no one else to help should she need it. Terrifying might capture the tone. Did the angelic host help with the birth? No. They were busy helping the shepherds and the kings to follow the star…So, friendless and sheltered in a barn, Mary bore her son. I am sure it was not simple, it hurt and she was pretty much on her own. We forget the toil to have this baby. We forget her youth i and inexperience to have this child. Forget the god stuff. Her son.
Mary wasn’t thinking of people who “come let us adore him”—but of the tender bud, the little child, that radiant baby that was the beginning of her new life as a mother and a wife to Joseph. She was exhausted, but pleased that she could finally breathe again and sleep in a way that was not gymnastics in order to get comfortable. With the singing angels, yes, the religion teaches us its about the promise of Jesus…his birth to then live, die and promise us rebirth in heaven. But to me, its about a mom…learning to be a mom, to help her son be the man he is going to be—teaching him right from wrong, providing food and learning his favorites. Its the shepherding of this new family that gave this son the confidence and support that he could grow up to be the person he was predestined to be.
So the promise in what Jesus represents, this small newborn that is supposed to do big things….the promise in this day is also that we can be supporting roles in our own children’s lives. Shaping them to do great things…maybe not Messianic things, but important regular things just like Mary and Joseph. And we can remember their births, their birthdays as milestones around which a family has grown and been built.
Happy day. Happy Birthday.