I wrote this in '05, my first year of blogging, and have rerun it each December since then.
I'm rerunning again, because that's part of what makes me so predictable.
And, it's all still true, except that we no longer need babysitters, and Ramona now gets easily through the Mass.
And the ending?
Predictable and true.
I'm So Predictable
My husband and I have a holiday tradition. Every year, close to Christmas, we get a babysitter, go out for Chinese food, buy all the last-minute ...
** (WARNING: Santa spoiler ahead) **
... stocking stuffers and generally fall in love all over again -- with each other, with our children, and with the magic of Christmas. We talk about our days, about my parents and his, about holiday travel plans, and about how we'll keep the youngest child happy and calm during the long Christmas Eve Mass. And we talk about how we can't believe how drastically our Christmases have changed over the years.
You see, when we married, we didn't want children. Children were nice enough for other people, but not for us. We didn't want the mess, the commitment, the responsibility. We were happy to be "child free" as opposed to "childless."
Then something happened. I became a Christian.
Oops. Short-circuit in the selfishness department. I began to long for a child. Soon, Atticus's heart caught up with mine in the procreation debate, and we set forth to create a family. After some heartbreaking miscarriages, we had Anne. But only one child, Atticus said. One child is enough.
Then I became a Catholic.
Oops. Short-circuit in the "openness to life" department. We had Betsy. Several more heartbreaking miscarriages later, God awarded us with Ramona, and here we are. Falling in love again at Christmas time, and crazy, head-over-heels in love with our children.
And all because of of a Child born in Bethlehem two thousand years ago. Had Mary said, "No, thank you, I'd like to remain child-free," I would be childless. There would have been no conversion, no short-circuit, and most certainly, no joy. How does one thank God for that?
I always seem to do it in the same old, tired way.
May you, too, shed some tears of ineffable gratitude this Christmas.