I spent several hours yesterday wrapping presents.
And I still have a couple of really tough-to-wrap presents to go.
That, and I need to buy one more gift for one of my sons since the mail isn’t going to get what I already bought here in time.
My husband went to Advent confession this week. I confessed a while back.
My daughters-in-law are pitching in to help with the Christmas cooking, as is the best friend of one of my kids that I call my adopted son.
I’m not going to super clean the house for Christmas. I don’t have enough gas in my tank. I’ve been lick-and-promising this place for a year now, and I’ve got to do more as soon as I can. Every closet, every drawer, needs to be emptied, rearranged and the no-longer-needed things sent along to Goodwill.
I’ve been working on a slightly complex piano solo of O Come, O Come Emmanuel, one with variations and pretty additions, for a while now. I’m also learning George Winston’s version of Carol of the Bells. It’s pretty stuff … when somebody else plays it. With me, it’s sort of plunky. But I love the doing of it.
One reason it took so long last night when I was wrapping was that I spent quite a bit of time playing with my granddaughter’s new toys. She’s 11 months of miracle, and her toys are the most fun of any gift under the tree. One, a bug-like thing that’s incredibly soft and squishy and that makes lots of cute little sounds every time you touch it, makes me laugh every time I fool with it.
Christmas with a baby is the absolute best of life.
Here are the things that matter most:
My granddaughter’s laughter.
Her sweet little self, snuggled against me in bed while we count fingers and toes.
Making baby girl sandwiches with her Paw-Paw in which we kiss and squish her from both sides as she giggles with delight.
My two tall sons who are both good men of gentle and loving character. I am so proud of both of them.
My 91-year-old baby girl, my Mama, who never stops telling me how much she loves me and whose eyes always glow with love when she looks at me.
My husband who sometimes doesn’t understand me in the Mars-Venus way that men usually don’t understand their wives, but who is my other half, my spouse, my friend and my love.
My few friends — it is always a very few for any of us — who stick with me even when they disagree with me, and who pulled together to form “Team Becky” to get me through the tough year just past.
My Church which is a highway to heaven, if we will just have the humility to walk its way.
The pastors I’ve been blessed with, good men who try their best to be good shepherds.
My country, my beloved country.
My guardian angels who have walked me through more than one fire.
St Michael the Archangel, who, odd as this sounds, feels like a friend.
And first, foremost and forever, my Jesus and His dear mother.
I did my best in my own uninformed way, to consecrate my efforts to Mary’s … how do I put this? … to her disbursement of them. I did this a couple of years ago.
I pray every night for everyone I know who has died and for all those who don’t have anyone to pray for them. I pray and give them whatever weak merits I’ve earned. I place those merits in her hands to use according to Jesus’ will.
I don’t fully understand what I’m doing. But I just ask Jesus’ mother to use whatever good I can do in a way that it will do what Jesus wants.
I can’t do that myself because I don’t know enough. But she can.
That’s the key and the core of Christmas as I understand it. Because of that birth in a humble stable of a baby boy that, even then, the powers of this world wanted to wipe from existence, we are free to approach the throne of God. We have access to God made man and His mother, to whom He entrusted us.
The Old Testament tells us that no one can look on the face of God and live.
But the shepherds did. The wise men did. And we can.
God made Himself as weak and humble as possible to allow us to see Him and know Him.
There is no sound in this world sweeter than the laughter of a baby.
There is no hand so soft, belly so kissable, no face so trusting and pure as the face of a baby.
There is also no human more vulnerable, more helpless, more in need of our constant care and love. Without love, babies literally waste away and die.
As do we all.
We no longer have to say that if we look on the face of God we will die. We can look to the manger and the helpless baby lying there and see God, shorn of His glory in an act of love for us.
Life, all human life is sacred. Because He made it so.
You and I matter, because we matter to Him.
I love my granddaughter with a the same blinding love that I felt for my own babies. I would kill or die, and never care which one it was, to protect her.
That, my friends, is how God feels about every single one of us. He became one of us to save us. He died for us.
Our salvation begins where the human story always begins. It starts with a baby.
Merry Christmas my dear friends. Thank you for sharing this journey with me.