Today, there are two things on my agenda: clean the house and bake more Christmas cookies. Molasses, gingerbread, crème de menthe truffles, snickerdoodles… Tonight, John will make a crackling fire and I will snuggle on the couch with my four perfect children and watch the film Nativity.
Ella’s actually not so perfect right now. Her upper lip is so chapped and red I call her Rudolph.
“I not Rudolph. I Ella! I a girl!” (Her speech is coming along, people.)
We will wish for snow, because mud doesn’t invoke cozy Christmas feelings the way clean white snow does, and we will send the kids to bed with visions of sugarplums in our heads. Or crème de menthe truffles. Or whatever. After they fall asleep, I will continue wrapping presents. (I finally started this most arduous process last night.)
Last evening, at 9:30, as John was bringing in Barbie dolls and Imaginext Batman toys from his trunk (our super secret Christmas hiding spot) to our living room, a mother whose three children were already slumbering in their own beds slipped from this world into the next. She had been fighting an aggressive form of cancer for the past 2 years. Her three children are just about the same age as mine.
I read the news with a heavy, bitter heart. I thought of how the shadow of her death will forever darken her children’s Christmases to come.
And then I thought better.
I thought of how the miracle we celebrate on December 25 makes it possible for these kids to have hope. That there is something serenely beautiful about leaving this broken earth at the same time of year we celebrate Jesus’ coming,remembering that Jesus came for the sole purpose of bridging the unfathomably large gap between heaven and earth.
Tonight, I will hold my kids close and remind them of our temporary condition. Their toys, which bring them such short-lived joy, are nothing in comparison to the ultimate gift of Christmas. And they will probably tell me to be quiet mom, that I always talk during movies and hug them so tight they can’t breathe so good. So I’ll tickle them and one will inevitably rush off to go to the bathroom, and we will all laugh. Oh, how blessed we are to have one another. To have faith.
“You don’t have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body.” C.S. Lewis.