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This is the sixth Christmas since I became a mother. It is the first Christmas since I became a mother that I haven’t been in survival mode.
The reasons for the survival mode state have varied over the years…challenging pregnancies, uncontrolled autoimmune disease, an ailing extended family member, and a baby with a congenital heart defect. Yet all the same, the thought of doing any sort of elaborate Advent celebration seemed utterly overwhelming.
Year after year, images of Elves on Shelves, daily Christmas themed picture books, and cherubic children singing Christmas hymns flooded my Instagram feed. I did almost none of these things. I read aloud books about baby Jesus and Luke 2. We played with our Nativity sets, purchased by their grandparents. I managed to read maybe two or three Christmas themed picture books. Certainly not twenty-five. The mom guilt was suffocating. I wondered to myself why I couldn’t just Get It Together. I berated my ailing physical being for failing me, for making me such an un-fun mom.
One year, I made sugar cookies with my 20 month old son. I was very pregnant with his little brother, and the experience wiped me out of the little energy that I had that day. His giggles still ring in my ears. He loved putting the sprinkles on the cookies. He still does love sprinkles.
Jesus saw me then, and if you’re struggling today as you read this, I want you to know that Jesus sees you too. Jesus said that His yoke is easy and His burden is light. If doing a million crafts and baking a million things and reading twenty-five books and making a Jesse Tree is an easy yoke for you, go for it.
But if it isn’t…
Remember that the most important thing for a young child to know is that Jesus loves them. And if that is all you cover during Advent, it is enough.
One year I didn’t get to attend church on Christmas Eve because my then toddler son was throwing up. We snuggled on the couch as he clutched his plastic baby Jesus in his little hand. I whispered to him about how Jesus came to earth as a baby. His frame nestled into mine. I stroked his blonde hair.
As I kissed the top of his head, I felt a sense of peace and wonder. Mary probably held Jesus after He threw up. His young immune system was probably weak, just as toddlers’ today are. I thought about the humanity of that: how Jesus chose to come to earth as a baby.
What wondrous love is this, oh my soul.