The real meaning of Christmas

Christmas takes on a new meaning now that I’m a mother.

I’m not talking about watching a child eagerly await Santa’s arrival, though that is pretty cool.

I’m talking about the birth of JC.

Now, regardless of how you feel about the Virgin birth, I think you have to admit that the story is pretty extraordinary.

And if you have ever given birth, you have to drop your jaw in amazement and feel sorry for the poor girl who had to lie on dirty mule blankets and push out a baby in front of a barn full of animals.

I have heard some impressive birth stories, but the no-room-at-the-inn, traveling-across-a-desert experience pretty much tops the list.

Do you think Mary and her girlfriends swapped birth stories the way we do now?

“Hey, Mary! I just had John after 10 hours of labor. Whew, am I glad that is done!” says Elizabeth.

“A donkey licked my face while I was pushing, Joseph had to shovel manure to make a spot for a manger that had rough, prickly hay as the padding, and three random dudes I never met were knocking at the door like, RIGHT after the baby came out,” Mary replies.

Mary wins.

And what happened next? We all know the Christmas story, but I am just dying to know what the little savior was like as a baby.

If you go by Christmas carols, you surmise that the holy infant was tender and mild, sleeping in heavenly peace while shepherds, angels and animals watched quietly.

If you go by common sense, you get a different picture.

“Hey, Mary! So, how is little Jesus doing? Is he sleeping through the night yet? John is out from sun down to sun up,” Elizabeth says.

“Well, isn’t that just great for you,” Mary replies. “Jesus has a terrible diaper rash because I accidentally wiped him with a cloth soaked in frankincense. He can’t sleep at night because that huge star is still hanging out over the barn, so the whole place is lit up all night. If I ever do get him down for a nap, the angels show up and start singing Hallelujah and I’m like, ‘Can you please keep it down?’”

Fast-forward a year or two: What would Jesus have been like as a toddler? We already know that he threw a fit in the temple as a child, so I doubt he was one of those calm little ones who played alone.

Do you think the first time his mother gave him a bit of fish, he spit it out and gave her a look that said, “Lady, I’m going to be multiplying these things one day, you better learn a better recipe”?

Do you think that he would pick up handfuls of dirt and sand and throw it at Mary when she was trying to sit for JUST ONE MINUTE?

Do you think he would run away from her EVERY TIME she took him to the market or temple?

Do you think that other mothers invited Mary and Jesus over for play dates? Or do you think other mothers were like, “Don’t invite them. That little boy revived my kid’s pet snake and freaked us all out.”

Who knows? Maybe Jesus was a really, really good kid. Maybe he always listened to his mother. When he was through playing, maybe he put away the little wooden toys Joseph hand-crafted for him. Maybe he ate his unleavened bread with a smile every night.

As a mother, I like to think it was a little different, and that the little boy who was born in a barn never closed the door behind him and had to go to “time out” often.

In a way, thinking that Mary and little JC had a tough go of it at first is comforting. If he could grow up to be someone who inspired so many, maybe those of us who have wild children will one day watch them do great things as well.

And that is why they say that this is the season of perpetual hope.

Happy holidays from my family to yours.

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