On Saturday I attended the wedding of a dear friend’s daughter, and in a quiet moment I spoke with this friend’s parents. I wanted to pause and let them know how much I love their daughter, to thank them for being such wonderful parents. Her mother’s response to me was this: “Do you see what I would have missed out on if I hadn’t had my seventh baby?”
My friend is the youngest of seven children (who’s now had seven children of her own). I couldn’t help musing a bit over the beautiful sermon offered in that wise question. As I did this, my thoughts turned to my own seventh baby and how her life has blessed mine this month.
My little daughter has been the mainspring of the Christmas spirit in our home. Pure and innocent, vivacious and precocious, she has touched my heart deeply as a parade of wondrous thoughts and feelings have escaped her lips. She has wept on my lap at a lost little lamb in one Christmas story, reassured the family countless times that the Grinch “toodn’t top trismas” no matter how he tried and acted out the Christmas story with dolls and toys hundreds of times.
Early each December in my community a small group of people devote a cold night to erecting a stable and sitting outdoors for a few hours in a live nativity scene. We have often driven past and enjoyed the beauty of this display. This year as I was on my way home, knowing it was taking place, I called my husband and told everyone to be ready to jump in the car when I pulled in. We did so, and drove to the location. We pulled off to the side of the road so our little ones could get a good look and understand what we were witnessing.
The city closes the road in one direction for the event, and a block away Santa waits to greet families. We proceeded with the plan and laughed with joy as our sweet daughter marveled at Santa and his red sleigh. Tears pricked at my eyes as she thanked him for her candy cane. We drove away and she promptly insisted that we needed to “go back.”
We drove around again for another look at the Nativity. She wasn’t satisfied.
We drove home, let the family out of the car, bundled her up in the stroller and walked over. We saw Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus.
We saw wise men.
There were shepherds.
She wasn’t satisfied.
Gratefully, many of these people were our friends. They invited her to pet the donkey.
Then they let her sit with the angels.
Standing there in the cold, I saluted these young people who spend one night each December sitting in the bitter cold to share, in a unique way, their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. I felt thankful that they would share a bit of the magic with a two year old girl whose imagination couldn’t get enough.
Cold but happy, we headed home after she had said “Merry Christmas” to all of them. I hope I never forget how angelic those two words sounded, coming from her tender heart. Yet still she wasn’t satisfied. She wanted to go back. She wanted to be an angel. I told her that perhaps she’ll get to do it with them when she’s bigger and she replied, “But I’m already bigger!”
It was December 4th. We went to the basement and hauled out the box of Christmas costumes. She put on the angel one. And then she went and knelt by our little manger.
Before long, her big brother wandered in with a Joseph costume on, followed by another sister dressed as Mary. They just knelt there, looking at our little baby Jesus doll.
I thought of the words of the Savior when he visited the Nephites. He said, “Behold your little ones.” I thought of a Christmas ten years ago when my own newborn son was placed in a rough wood box as my two toddlers, dressed as Mary and Joseph, knelt beside it. Behold your little ones. Here I am, all these years later, still learning from chubby hands and faces as they reverently treasure a baby Jesus of their own. I watched my Christmas angel and wondered why it is that we keep those costumes in the box until Christmas Eve. She was right. They should be out all month long.
For three weeks now the angel costume has traveled around the house, dropped in random places where she takes it off until she picks it up again. The tinsel angel halo sits on my desk as I type this. I am thankful beyond words for a little girl who has made a stable of my home this Christmas season, for her pure little heart that has literally worshiped at the side of the manger, for the tears I’ve wiped away as she wept over a lost little lamb.
I’ve made cookies, provided stories, hung lights and wreaths and garlands. She has made it Christmas all month long, reminding me to pause near the manger as well. Three years ago her birth was all I wanted for Christmas. This year she is my Christmas angel.
Do you see what I would have missed out on if I hadn’t had my seventh baby?