Celebrating the Birth of a Baby

The Christmas season always brings up profoundly mixed feelings for me--as I expect it does for many others. I love the traditions--hanging the wreath, decorating the tree, baking the goodies, making gifts with the children, having little secrets, hearing and singing the carols. I hate the commercialism--Christmas paraphernalia everywhere before Thanksgiving, the exploitation of wonderful human impulses to love and to give, the constant message of "buy, buy, buy".

It's often hard to get through the layers of tradition, the overlay of commercialism, and the host of activities spawned by both, to find the core of the holiday. But the Christmas story has always touched me. Having become a parent, I am touched by it even more. This is the day that people from all over the world celebrate the birth of a child. Kings journey, angels sing, shepherds follow--all because a baby has been born.

We get to commemorate many events during the course of a year--the lives of great men, the death of men in war, the end of wars, the beginnings of our country, the harvest. But this is the day that we commemorate a woman giving birth. We celebrate a baby being born, bringing new hope into the world.

A baby has been born. What a profoundly hopeful event! Now this Christmas child was a very special baby. But, stopping to notice his birth, we are reminded that each baby is special. Each birth is a profoundly hopeful event. When a child is born, we become open in a wonderful way. Having a brand-new human being, so fresh and new, so ready to love, so innocent, so obviously requiring nurture, brings out our very best. Our love pours out. Our hopes soar. We are ready to do anything for the sake of this child. How often do we hope that this baby in our arms could grow up to make a difference in the world?

It's hard to hold onto that precious experience of hope. Daily life crowds back in. Old worries and limitations show themselves again. The addition of this new person often demands more of our lives than we can give. The endless vistas dim, and we settle down to managing each day as best we can.

But then, along comes a holiday that celebrates the birth of a child. If we can find our way through the noise and busy-ness and clutter, we get to celebrate too. We get to be reminded of many things that we knew beyond a shadow of a doubt when our babies were born. Life is infinitely precious. Our hopes from back then are still true. The love we felt is real. Those open vistas are still there to be found again, and again. Could there be anything of greater value to remember?