I have a confession to make.
At Christmas, I miss my devout Catholic past. I miss placing the divine baby in the cold dry straw of the manger my father built, of the profound connection I felt to the absolute truth of the day as I knew it. (A good story gets you that way, and as an adoptee who was brought to her first real home just before Christmas, the largely unappreciated and anonymous baby in the manger had real resonance.)
I miss the comfort the little lights in the manger brought me, as I tried to imagine where the Wise Men were, placing one figurine due north, finding the star. I miss singing the songs in between masses, Gaetani Sunday and its pink robes and candle in the advent wreath, the hope in the dark, divinity in the mundane that is at the core of the day.
Since my departure from the church, where the only wholly good, universally celebrated woman is a mother who has never seen or touched a man, I have connected to actions and efforts that bring comfort to the afflicted, regardless of their faith. But as we put up our tree and tested lightstrings, I remarked to H how Christmas left me feeling sad now, of how I saw so many more than one child of God in the world, many of which would love to have a bed of straw instead of the places they found themselves, with or without a parent’s help.
He suggests, in his ever pragmatic way, that Christmas can be about family tradition, but I’m not so sure. I don’t think my son would connect to a creche in the same way as Mama, but explaining the time of year as the lesson of finding the divine in plain sight is a bit abstract for a 3 year old. Maybe next year.
In the meantime, I sit in the glow of the tree, and think about Emerson’s Oversoul, and tiny tots with their eyes all aglow, hoping against hope that Santa knows where they live.