We’ve come a long way, babies. Here at thedailycake.org, we’re celebrating our first official Christmas…or at least we will begin celebrating sometime around midnight, once we’ve put out all the candles on the Advent wreath and sniffed our last sniff of incense until Easter Vigil. Advent is a marathon, and whether you’re pacing yourself on the cookies you’re allowed to consume daily, or trying to find just the perfect thing for someone on your list, or just trying to make it through til New Year without sobbing in a ball, today’s the day we cozy up to the warm and lovely things in our lives, and remember a very special story.
There’s enough blather all over the interwebs about the War on Christmas, on the cultural shifts in celebrating the Season, etc., so, I won’t add my two cents to the pot. But I will say this…I believe in my heart of hearts that Christmas, whether you’re a Jesus person or not, is for everyone, just like how Jesus is for everyone. It’s hard sometimes to remember that when we hear negative and hurtful things from people in the Church or in our families. But when I hear those hard things, when my heart hurts over them, I really do make myself sit and think about the Baby Jesus. I really do love the Baby Jesus. It’s hard not to love a baby…it’s hard for me not to reach out and want to hold one, and smell that little sweet spot at the back of their necks. It’s hard to hold a sleeping baby, or a laughing one, and not feel your heart grow at least three sizes bigger. And I think that’s exactly what God intended us to feel over the Incarnation. So, when I feel sad or downhearted about the state of the Church or the world, when I’m thrown around by caustic and careless words and actions, I think about that tiny baby, that impossibly tiny and vulnerable baby, and how the most powerful force in the universe was housed and nurtured in the smallest of people…and I feel better.
When I get all wound up about presents (did I pick out the right one? how do I explain that this year’s presents are secretly disguised as catching up on the mortgage and don’t have pretty bows on them? what if there’s a fight at the dinner table? what if I burn the steak?) and stuff and stockings and Santa Claus and the freaking Elves all over EVERY shelf, I have to take a deep breath of that sweet spot on the back of the Baby Jesus’ neck, and close my eyes and remember what the Angel said to the shepherds. “Be not afraid…Be not afraid…Be not afraid…and I feel better.
It’s easy to get swept up in the lights and the tinsel and elbowing our way through stores and yelling at Amazon associates and eating a different cookie every five minutes. I forget so quickly about the sleeping baby, swaddled in the hay, sung to by His momma, in the city of his father’s family, dreaming of all of us and all the love we can make and be in the world. I get scared and hungry and passive-aggressive and that makes it hard to have much fun. And when my heart starts pounding and I feel the tears in the back of my throat and at the corners of my eyes, I take a couple of deep breaths in that sweet spot on the back of the Baby Jesus’ neck, and remember, like Mary, to ponder the wonders of His Love in my heart…and I feel better.
My Christmas wish is for you to know the deep love of small things, impossibly tiny things, to be transformed by giving and receiving the love and peace and sweetness we are offered by a God who loves us very very much, who believes in us even when we have trouble believing in anything beyond the tip of our nose, and Who dwelt among us as a person of peace and simplicity and immeasurable love.