Christmas is different each year...
My husband and I were talking about the Christmas right before Lori was born. We can't remember what we did or where exactly we went. We were sure it wasn't at our house because back then we had a small house, so we thought we went to both sets of parents' houses. I can't remember if we went to church that year and if so, where? I wasn't a member of the church where I am now, back then. I became a member that spring. I was still "touring churches" at that point. Starting the next year, Christmas Eve services became very important to me.
I do remember the next Christmas Eve. It was one of those rare times when my whole family was in Colorado (both of my brothers and my parents who live here all the time). That Christmas Eve, Lori was baptized (private baptism, before the service). It was important to me that as much of my family was there as possible. And everyone was there. Lori's cousin is close in age and we have pictures of them at the baptism. Most people probably forget the exact date of their kids' baptism, but we won't.
We tend to alternate Christmas visits - one year we do what I call the "tour," so we wake up, unwrap a few presents, and then do somewhat of a mad sprint to 2 other spots in Colorado which are about 2 hours from our house. I'm not a fan of the sprint, mostly because it isn't as easy for me to get around in other places. And I'm not sure everyone "gets" that, because it seems it would be easier not to have to clean your house or coordinate the food. But those things that seem easy to others - they may not be easy for me. MS gets in the way.
Last Christmas my aunt had unexpectedly just passed so many thoughts were directed to her and my cousins. As we sat in church and sang Silent Night, I thought of my grandpa - that was his favorite hymn and so it usually bring tears to my eyes and at times I get very emotional (depending on the setting of it).
This Christmas - well, it's been a strange Advent. It was mostly about me finishing graduate school. I was determined not just to finish graduate school, but to finish it well, to push all the way to the end, and to finish absolutely the best I could. That's because, I think, with many other things the goal is just to finish - just to be able to walk somewhere, just to be able to do... fill in the blank. MS can cause that "just finish it" way of doing things, but so can other things. But with my capstone project, there was more freedom - I was allowed outside any box. I finished, and I cut off so many things this fall to put everything into finishing. So I didn't just finish - it was a strong finish.
So this is sad, but in a sense Advent was in the background. The good thing is that next year it won't be! I've had this final week of Advent without school (and it seems strange!) - we have been shopping and decorating, so maybe there hasn't been as much pausing as I like to do during Advent. But I have had this week.
We'll have Christmas at our house this year. We'll go to Christmas Eve services which I love. I won't be thinking of my next class or paper. In a sense, for the first time in about 5 years, I think I can just relax this year. Maybe on Christmas, I'll finally pause, relax, and enjoy just being.
I wonder, when Christ was born, if there was any time for pausing. We should pause and await the birth. But when I think about life way back then, Mary had just delivered a baby, lots of visitors came, and so much was happening. Mary and Joseph had been traveling, so they weren't pausing. It almost seems like the mad Christmas rush, in a much different sense.
The nativity pictures make everything look so calm. I wonder, in the middle of Mary deliverying a baby, the traveling they had done, and all the visitors, if Christ came and created that "pause." It wasn't before he was born, but when he was born. Note I am not a pastor so I'm sure I'm missing some big stuff here.
But when we see the nativity scene, it seems as if it could be a pause button. Many people were moving, but Christ was calmly there, newly born. Perhaps through that, a set of "pauses" were created.
For me, maybe that pause will happen this year on Christmas. Maybe something will happen where I won't be in a rush. Maybe I will take a few moments to pause and consider Jesus, lying in a manger, calmly, entering a chaotic world as any baby might - in peace.