Well last Saturday was certainly a gold-star day. Remember the feeling of getting that star on your grade school paper, or the taste of the glue when you were allowed to put one wherever you wanted it? Perfection.
My grandson, Carter, was born last Saturday morning. A snowy, blowy, cold winter morning made brighter by the birth of a child. So ironic that this new, beautiful life was brought into my world on the one-year anniversary of a day that almost shattered my faith in humanity. Carter was born on the anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting.
That morning, Mark and I were at the hospital with the in-law’s, joyfully anticipating Carter’s birth. We were able to cry, congratulate, hug and love our growing family as he entered the world.
By noon, Mark and I were home celebrating with a champagne brunch. After a short nap we returned to the hospital with Hannah, Emma and Kate, where for the first time since the same date last year, I truly felt that all was right in the world. We were actually the larger, more boisterous family! A photograph in that hospital room showed every one of us at our smiling best – no scowls, no closed eyes, no one turned away.
I am enough of a realist to know that moment of perfection was fleeting, but I am also cognizant enough to know that particular moment was divine – that despite all the cruel, crazy evil in this world we can find our moments of perfection in the birth of a child.
I was given the true gift of Christmas last Saturday.
I’m having trouble finding the Christmas Spirit this year. It all started with a trip to Target.
I was recently part of an Early Response Team in New Jersey. I spent 3 days working in the name of God. Throwing families personal possessions to the curb for the back hoe to dump into the semi headed for Pennsylvania’s land-fills; ripping out the floors, walls and souls of well loved homes, and mucking through black sludge in a hazmat suit not really wanting to know what that smell was.
Upon my return I desperately needed razor blades. As I walked into Target that morning I was immediately struck by the intensity of the lights in the place and the absurdity of the muzak humming in the background. I have made jokes about being a “Stepford Wife” in the past, but this time I REALLY felt like one. So much so that it made my stomach retch. The copious quantities of crap that assaulted my eyes as I walked to the health care aisles offended my sense of being. I picked up my pace, grabbed my $15 4-pack of Venus cartridges and fled to the great outdoors.
In the parking lot I stood, waiting for my head to stop spinning. Breathing – panting at first actually. But eventually my breath returned. I went home and showered.
Two weeks later and my home is the warm, cozy winter retreat that it always is – some decorations up, roaring fires in the evenings and gentle music to soothe away the day. But I still don’t have a tree up and I’ve only casually considered Christmas Cards. And baking? Really not happening.
But in this moment that all seems OK. Maybe I really have found the spirit this year that I never really had before. Advent is about waiting, finding the joy, feeling the love and welcoming the child. A light is burning in me, just casting a different glow this year. A softer one. A glow found in the anticipation of something new: the love, peace and serenity of a clean-shaven life.