We leave in a few short hours for our Christmas Trip. I can’t help but remember going to bed the night before Christmas as a child, knowing that sleep must come before the morning and the amazing possibilities. I can’t help but recall the air seeming different, the regular old house looking mysterious somehow, the reach of my imagination seeming to extend far beyond the usual.

I went to bed last night with my stomach all a-flutter. This is going to be the BEST CHRISTMAS EVER, I thought to myself. And even as I was doing the mental equivalent of jumping up and down endlessly, I couldn’t help but try to slow myself down. I want to savor the taste of this waiting. I want to think about how much more Mary and Joseph must have felt this way, so very long ago. Even as I want to cherish this special time, including the preparation and every step of the way to our destination, I am sure Mary must have put her hands over her huge belly, feeling the robust kicks from her passenger, and felt that wonder so many mothers feel before the birth of their children. This is really going to happen, I remember thinking the day my daughter was born. I’m really going to GIVE BIRTH. There’s really going to be another person here when we’re done.

What do you suppose Mary was thinking? How do you suppose she shared the joy and wonder with Joseph? I remember my husband putting his head down to my belly and talking to Ethelbert (so named by our dear Padre), and I smile to think of Joseph doing that. Hey, little baby, hello in there! I can’t wait to meet you! I love you!

Even as scared and worried as they must have been, traveling all that way for the census, ending up in a smelly old barn, I can’t help but idealize the whole thing, make it into a painting in my head worthy of the front of your Christmas greeting cards. I can’t help but think that, even with the scratching of the straw, the smell of the manure, the haze in the air – even with all that, it was still a birth. And what a Baby to hold in your arms! What a Child to cuddle, to nurse, to gaze at.

As I embark on my big Adventure, unable to sleep in on a day when I could have, unable to NOT think of the list that must be completed upon our arrival home, unable to slow down even though I’m trying to enjoy every moment, I am praying in a special way for Christmas. I am waiting, joyful and expectant, because the Child is coming! He’s so close, He could come any day now. Even as I immerse myself with the love of my family, and even as I savor the BEST CHRISTMAS EVER, I want to focus on that little stable so long ago. I want to cherish my moments as they happen, even as I recall the reason we are celebrating together on this day so many years later.