I'm posting it again, because that's part of what makes me so predictable.
It's all still true, except it's been a long time since we needed a babysitter, ages since Ramona squirmed through Mass, and over the years our Christmas traditions have grown up along with our children.
But the ending?
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, and buy all the last-minute stocking stuffers. In the process, we 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 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. Then 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," to that child, I would be childless. There would have been no short-circuit, no conversion, and most certainly, no child-fueled joy. How do I 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.