pregnant in August 1993 with a due date in April 1994 gave me a year plus to dream about my first Christmas as a Mom. Officially. The baby's first ornament was purchased. Yard sales were scoured for that great deal on a Baby's 1st Christmas outfit. Sure, the little guy would only be about eight months old and not at all interested in opening presents, but plans for a great first Christmas were large in my head.
And then my first Christmas as a Mom was spent in a hospital with a four foot artificial tree propped in the window, wearing illegal lights. A hospital sheet served as the tree skirt, decorated with the scattering of presents purchased by hopeful parents that one day their little boy might actually enjoy them. Nurses and doctors brought cheer of their own sort. For goodness sake, they weren't with their families either that Christmas day.
I don't remember what time we woke up that morning. Husband and I had slept crammed together onto a single parents' cot bolstered with an egg crate. James in his shiny metal hospital crib didn't know the morning was any different. I expected magical because it was Christmas. Even though we were in the hospital. I guess that's when I learned that magical does not just happen. Christmas in the hospital is only good script for a Hallmark channel movie.
Pictures with a nasal gastric tube. Mom opening presents not at all interesting to James. Dad stressed over costs and circumstances. Christmas dinner a la Boston Market. Family at the Ronald McDonald House to visit later. Memorable in its own way.
Perspective that year came in the knowledge that our little family while under adversity was not spending its first Christmas re-living funeral arrangements. Our friends only six days earlier had said earthly good-byes to their son. Our own hearts full of hope for ourselves struggled with the fullness of sadness for them. Christmas reality trumps magical wishes.
Thank goodness the story that began at Christmas does not end there. As dear as Christmas is for many, I want that the manger would remind me always of the Cross. That baby grew up. And He died. Perspective comes in the fulfillment of God's will. Even with pain and suffering attached.