My son is playing baby Jesus in the nativity scene at church this evening. We really don't know whether he'll smile or cry, but either way, it'll be a memory for Christmases to come, and we'll always be able to tell him, "Hey, you better behave- you were Jesus!"
As the holiday approaches, I've been thinking a lot about faith. I was raised devoutly Catholic. Both of my parents were (and still are) very involved with the church, and we did many church-centered activities as a family, including prayer, saying rosaries, performing music at mass, even participating in family retreats. I found comfort in these rituals as a child and young teenager, but after I got cancer, I had much more trouble with my faith. I still believed God existed, but something major had happened to shake the belief that He was watching out for me. I'm sure this happens at least once in everyone's lives, even the most devoted. Tragedies, heartbreaks and deaths tend to have that effect. But I never really recovered from it, even after I went into remission. It didn't help that in college, especially grad school, I became interested in politics and picked up a lot of liberal ideas that didn't mesh well with the Catholic church. Not knowing how to reconcile the religion of my childhood with the social beliefs of my adulthood, I stopped going to mass altogether.
However, something happened last December that has slowly brought some of that faith back: becoming pregnant with my son. I'm a natural skeptic, especially about religion, but even I believe that Edwin's conception was an absolute miracle. I had to make adjustments to my thyroid medication in order to start trying to conceive, and the most recent test I'd had showed that my levels were still much too high. According to my doctors, I shouldn't have been able to conceive. Moreover, even after additional adjustments, my levels were high enough that there was a real risk of miscarriage in the first trimester. And yet, Edwin was conceived, unexpectedly but blessedly, and he thrived. It makes sense that he came when he did. Christmas has always been a significant time for my husband and me. We started dating, got engaged, and bought our first home, all during Christmas seasons. It's only natural that our baby would have originated then as well.
A baby is a miracle no matter what the circumstances. But I feel like the gift of Edwin during an unexpected but special time made him an extra-big miracle. Since his birth, I've seen so many positive changes in my life. He's made me a better, more patient person and given me joy far beyond my expectations. He's brought my husband and me even closer together. I've seen new sides of my parents and parents-in-law as they've become grandparents for the first time, and the whole extended family is lightened when he is in our midst. It's not hard to believe in miracles, or God, or the Christmas spirit, when something so transformative as a loving, charming, sweet baby comes into your life.
God bless you all, if you believe in God, and if not, may the spirit of the season inspire you and give you peace and joy.
And God, if you're listening, my Christmas wish this year is for a night of uninterrupted sleep. Please?