It was my daughter Sydnee’s first Christmas, but nothing about her first Christmas, or her first year of life for that matter, had gone as I had planned.
Like many mothers, I had high hopes and big expectations for baby’s first Christmas. You know, for the simple things and delicate memories that mothers hold dear to their hearts. . .
As I hung up her stocking right next to her big sister’s stocking, I thanked God for saving her life twice that year. I was so grateful to God that she was still here with us.
As I hung her “Baby’s 1st Christmas” ornament on the tree, I dreamed about the future and all the ornaments she would one day make to hang on our tree.
And when I purchased my girls matching Christmas pajamas, I imagined them sleepy-eyed and waddling down the hallway together to see their gifts underneath the tree on Christmas morning.
As I pictured that first Christmas with Sydnee, I did not picture spending part of it in the hospital, pleading with the doctor to release us so we could spend the holiday at home with both of our children, nor staying up all night on Christmas Eve watching her to make sure she was still breathing.
Our family crowded into our living room to open gifts together, and the Presence of God washed over me, bringing me fresh insight that Christmas morn. God brought the Christmas story to mind, and I realized I am not the only mother whose baby’s first Christmas did not go as she had hoped.
I pictured Mary, there in a stable, surrounded by furry barnyard friends, with her newborn infant sleeping in hay. I am sure that is not how Mary had written her birth plan, yet the Bible tells us that she treasured in her heart the fact that her tiny son was Immanuel, God with Us, the Messiah sent to save the world (see Luke 2:19).
She didn’t get caught up on the fact that the King of Kings was born in a stable, even though that was doubtedly her first choice of birthing venue. All that mattered was God was now here. The light of the world had come into the darkness.
As I sat in my recliner with my sick little girl in my lap, His peace flooded my heart. Baby’s first Christmas wasn’t what I had planned for, but it was more than I had hoped for. None of the little things seemed to matter anymore. What mattered was that Immanuel had come; God was with us.
Reflecting over the past year, I recalled how God had been with us; shining His light into our darkness every step of the way. And I too, treasured these things in my heart.
Maybe this Christmas, as you put your last finishing touches into your holiday preparation, you are hoping for it to look a certain way. Whether it’s your first Christmas in a relationship, in a new home, or with a new baby, I pray that it is more than you could even hope for and that you are overwhelmed with His presence this season.
Perhaps all that you were hoping for this Christmas already seems to be a loss. Whatever the reason that your holiday is not going as you had planned, I am praying a special prayer for you, dear friend, that His light illuminates your darkness, and you spend Christmas wrapped up in His love, to the point that you can feel Him with you.
Together, this Christmas, may we all treasure in our hearts the true miracle of Christmas. Immanuel has come, and God is with us.