EDINBURGH, Scotland, December 23, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – I know the true meaning of Christmas is Baby Jesus, but I never have time for Baby Jesus when I have so much Christmas stuff to do. By Midnight Mass I am so tired, I always fall asleep when the congregation sits for the homily and wake up when we stand to sing the Nicene Creed.
This year, however, is unprecedented in that my husband is recovering from brain surgery and I began working full-time in May. Those past Advents during which I addressed fifty Christmas cards, baked dozens of cookies, and prepared both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day feasts held a lot of available time that I no longer have. Parents who work full-time jobs and yet still manage to prepare beautiful Christmas celebrations for their families are heroes to me.
“I’m not preparing for Christmas until work stops on Friday,” I announced, both aloud and on social media, but what I really meant was that I was not going to send Christmas cards, bake cookies, get a tree, or wrap presents until then. I have had just too much to do: writing for LifeSiteNews, doing the housework, and–most recently–making preparations for family members joining us here in Scotland.
Since we found out Mark was sick again this May, it’s been go-go-go for me, and I haven’t really been able to think of Christmas holidays as anything more than even more work–the family Christmas traditions I have kept going since I married–and then a chance to sleep in.
“But where is Baby Jesus in all this?” I asked yesterday after writing a post about one year’s extraordinary feat of Christmas cooking. I slept on the topic, and this morning, while putting the finishing touches on the guest rooms, I had my answer.
Baby Jesus isn’t in the Christmas cards, or the tree, or in any of the traditional Christmas foods I prepare to keep my own homesickness at bay. Baby Jesus is in the preparations I make on behalf of other people.
This may sound like elementary Christianity to you, but it’s a sudden revelation to me. Only this morning did I realize how much my ordinary Christmas preparations have been Christmas gifts to myself. My mother’s cookie recipes, my mother’s Christmas cake recipe, my family’s decades-old Christmas dinner menu, all the Christmas cards I’ve sent across the ocean: that was all for me, to comfort myself for having grown up and then moved away. All these years my husband would have been just as happy with no Christmas cards to sign and a panettone from Marks and Spencer.
Well, that’s a downer. But on the other hand, it’s also a liberation from a lot of unnecessary fuss. If Baby Jesus is with me as I put freshly washed comforters on my relatives’ beds, I don’t need to string popcorn or do a hundred other lesser tasks to summon up “the Christmas spirit.”
I have now apologized to my husband for driving him crazy with my Christmas baking and decorating obsessions for the past eight years, and he has apologized for not always understanding why they were so important to me.
Meanwhile, my mother–fresh off the plane–has popped down to the shops to buy cream sherry, Mark tells me. And apparently she plans to do a lot of the Christmas baking herself. So I think Baby Jesus will be found there, too, and in all the gifts and tasks everyone in our home will give or do for everyone else.