Christmas day, 2008. The day I decided to take the plunge and... create my first blog. I've been thinking about this for a while but haven't had the courage to do it until now. I don't know why today is different, other than I simply feel like I must do it. I must write. Something. Anything. The part of me that is taking this leap now is the part that is thinking that I'd like to somehow make a record of the life that encompasses my every day - in part for my own pleasure, and in part to record the life of my family...my children. This is my passion.
My husband, Geoff, and I have been married for 14 years and we have one child, an almost-5-year-old boy named Matthew. Eventually, we will add two more to our brood, who will come home to us from Ethiopia; we have been waiting for over 8 months for a referral of two children from Ethiopia, and are hopeful that sometime in the next number of months we will see pictures of the two little ones who already, with Matthew, grip my heart. That will be a good day...though not as good as the one (someday) when we arrive home with our family complete.
So...today we celebrated Christmas. As a Christian, I believe that Christmas is about remembering and celebrating Christ's birth. But to be honest, in the hectic pace of the last few days, it was difficult to recollect that the real reason for Christmas is not shopping, not santa, not turkey dinners, not even the family ties that pull us into gatherings around this time of year. Instead, I have felt inundated with images of santa and snowmen and cookies and presents under the tree. We have chosen to teach our son that santa is not real - we tell him that santa is the central figure in a really fun story, but that there is no santa who comes in from the north pole with his reindeer to deliver presents for all 'good' children.
Not everyone is crazy about what we've taught him in this regard - one person asked me last week if I didn't risk stunting our child's imagination by preventing him from believing in santa (though if she knew my kid and knew the imaginary friends he's had since he was 18 months old, she likely wouldn't be so concerned!). I've been shocked by how many people, on a daily basis over the past two or three weeks, have felt free to ask my son whether he's been good or bad (because if he's bad, he won't get any presents, according to a waitress at Sals restaurant!), if he's ready for santa to come down the chimney, if he sent a letter so santa with a list of things he wants for Christmas, etc etc. The poor kid's been completely confused at times, and has asked on several occasions whether I'm sure that santa isn't real because all of these other grown-ups seem pretty convinced otherwise. Sigh. What I've told him is that people believe different things about santa, and that it's not up to us to spoil what other people believe, but that we know that santa is just a story. That seems to work, but I confess that I've been a bit annoyed and surprised by how many people persist with this course of thinking. I just don't want my kid to find out when he's seven years old that we've been lying to him all along - and that, in fact, there is no such thing as santa.
So...when I stop now for a few moments to think about the real reason for Christmas, I think about what a friend told me just today. The biblical truths about the nativity scene are: there was no such character as the inn-keeper we've invented to say that there was no room in the inn; we have no idea how many wisemen there really were (only that they brought three gifts); and there is no confirmation that the birth actually took place in a barn - who knows if there were even any animals around! But whatever that scene looked like, what I believe is this: a baby was born that night under the brightest star and placed in a manager, no doubt by the most loving of arms; and that baby would grow into a man who would become the Saviour of the world for those who believe in him. I was moved when Matthew told me earlier today that the gifts are great and lots of fun, but that the reason we celebrate Christmas was because baby Jesus was born and laid in a manger.
"Joy to the World, the Lord is come. Let earth receive her King..." Merry Christmas to all. And to all a good night.