We had our own Christmas Eve miracle eight Christmases ago.
Like the first Christmas miracle, ours was a miracle of birth. Only our miracle didnt take place in a stable; it happened in a modern, state-of-the-art hospital. Instead of a manger filled with straw, our Christmas baby lay down her sweet head in a comfortably warm, carefully sterilized bassinet. And while there were no cattle or shepherds to attend the birth of our precious little one, there were plenty of nurses, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins.
Not to mention the occasional wise man/doctor poking a head in.
From the east, as I recall.
Now, I know there are tens of thousands of births every day on this planet, and there was nothing that made our experience any more miraculous than any other. But for me, it was a magical moment of transformation. Right before my eyes my son became a father, my wife became a grandmother, my daughters became aunts, my youngest son became an uncle and that basketball in my daughter-in-laws tummy became The Worlds Most Adorable Granddaughter.
There were some extraordinary moments during that long and . . . well, almost sacred Christmas Eve. No, we didnt have herald angels harking in the heavens, or a new star overhead to light the way to baby Becky. But we did have 8-year-old Jon, excitedly telling everyone: Im an uncle! Im an uncle! We had two grandmothers one a veteran, one a first-timer taking turns monitoring the hospital staff to make sure they were taking proper care of their granddaughter. And we had two families coming together at the nursery window to ooh! and ahh! at the little dark-haired bundle who represented their confluence.
For me, however, the most profound moments involved my son: the joy in his eyes as he held up his daughter for all the family to see; the tender concern etched on his face as he oversaw the poking and probing and assorted testing of little Becky; and the peaceful contentment that emanated from him as he sat in a hospital rocking chair holding his sweet, slumbering child.
I had gone to get him some food hey, a guys gotta eat, even on a personally miraculous Christmas Eve and I brought it to the hospital room where the new little family was headquartered. New Mama Jen was resting comfortably, and Joe was holding Becky. For a moment, I stood silently and watched my son gently cradle his baby in his long, powerful arms. At first, all I could see was the top of Joes head, as he bent to her, examining her, studying her, kissing her little hands and cheeks. Then he looked up at me, and I could see the tears that were streaming down his face.
You were right, he said as a tear dripped of his cheek and fell softly on Beckys hand.
I hesitated. I had lectured Joe about so many things through the years, I wasnt exactly sure which thing I had been right about.
I was? I asked.
He glanced down at Becky, then back at me. This . . . this . . . feeling, he said. Ive never felt anything like it. Its like . . . love . . . squared. To the Nth degree.
I understood. I was feeling that same feeling for my child and my grandchild. And it made me think that perhaps that is truly the essence of Christmas. Its not just about a child, and its not just about parents heavenly or otherwise. Its about love.