I realized a few years ago that part of the reason Christmas feels empty to me is because it has turned into little more than a deadline. Rushing around - trying to jam a car trip into a few days off of work.
I spent some time really thinking about why it felt like a deadline, and what would make the season feel precious to me again - and I realized I needed to share it with someone. I realized that Christmas is precious when you get to see it again through the eyes of a child. When you teach a child about the miracle.
Now, as much as a try - I can't shake the emptiness. There is this big, gaping hole in my life.
I want to set up my nativity scene with my children. The wise men stand at the far end of the credenza while Mary and Joseph wait in the stable. Little baby Jesus is hidden in the hay behind the stable until we get home from Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve. That's when He is born and joins the Holy Family in the manger.
I long to delight in the wonder of a child seeing presents beneath the tree on Christmas morning. To read Bible stories as I teach my children the story of Jesus' birth. How the wonderous star guided those who believe to find the tiny Christ Child. To explain that wise men still seek Him. To share the joy in the knowledge that the destiny of the Savior - while unknown completely to young Mary - was predestined by God for all of us. And she was His willing servant.
I need to be more like Mary.
But it's so hard. I lived my entire life with the assumption that I would have a family. When I tucked away Newsweek magazines plastered with images from the start of the Gulf War, I did so with the belief that my children would find them some day, and use them to write a history report. (I remember finding newspapers with headlines of JFK's assassination that my mom had saved. I was awed by the yellowed print depicting day of reports of something I only knew as history.)
I have saved some of my favorite dresses and some amazing shoes - moved them across three states more than 7 times - with the thought of my daughter longing to try them on - wanting to be as glamorous as mommy in the faded photo.
I can't tell you how many times I have moved 'stuff' that will someday be perfect if I ever have a house that echoes with the scurry of little feet. (not mice)
Now that dream is fading, pulling away from me. And I'm a little pissed.
I went to Mass today, and the Gospel told the story of the angel that appeared to Mary. Telling her plans that she could not understand. When she questioned, the angel explained, "God will handle the details, if you only say yes."
I need to be more like Mary.
I've heard and read this story so many times. But today as I read along, God spoke to me, in the words of Mary's visitor angel.
"And behold, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived a son in her old
age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren; for nothing will
be impossible for God."
Mary said, "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to
me according to your word." ~Luke1:26-38
This was an inspiration. That God has all the details worked out and I just need to keep saying yes.
But I go back and forth.
I want to see the plans. The assignment. A schedule.
I need to have faith and willingness like Mary.
Yeah, but He used Mary. He's not even doing anything with me.
I have to believe that God has the desires of my heart in His capable hands.
I can relate to Elizabeth. I feel barren. I feel the same pain as the many women who struggle with infertility, longing to have a family. Except, I don't even get to try.
I was so lonely and sad all weekend, and as I called my friends on Saturday to talk, to keep me company as I cleaned my house - no one answered.
I could only picture them out with their kids, picking up a present for daddy. Sledding down the big hill. Stopping for hot chocolate and singing Christmas songs in the car.
I finally called a single girlfriend who understood. She sympathized. She had emailed a bunch of friends in our social circle - asking about options for New Years Eve. Most of what she got back - were responses from one half of some couple saying they were going out with other couples. The unwritten message was clear - you're not in a couple so we're not asking you to join us. She was hurt.
Right then we realized - we work hard not to be jealous. And we're not. We just feel left out. We are sincerely happy for all of our friends when they pair off, get engaged, get married, start having babies.
But are they equally sympathetic for us the other way around? We don't think it even occurs to them.
This holiday is all about family and it's so empty without one. Last year, at least I had hope that I might soon start a family. This year, it just sucks.
I am trying hard to get this sadness out of my head and heart - before I put myself in a car for 10 hours - stuck with my own thoughts. Maybe if I leave the thoughts here, they won't follow me to Nebraska.
Maybe there are bloggy angels who will carry my thoughts in their prayers.
I'm counting on that.
Merry Christmas. Have a most blessed celebration. May all the joy and peace of that first Christmas be with you all - always.
I probably won't have computer access for a week - but I expect you all to be away from the computer too!
Check in with you later!