Well, it’s a complete cliché to say that children make Christmas magical, but, like many clichés, it becomes that way because of the truth in it. I’ve always been a sucker for Christmas anyway; I love traditions, carols, food, wine, cold weather, sparkly things, my family, giving and receiving presents (not necessarily in that order, I should point out), so Christmas has pretty much always been a win-win time of year for me.
This time four years ago was the first Christmas on which my daughter had an impact, making my favourite time of year even more special. I was seven months pregnant, and absolutely revelling in it. It is probably deeply blasphemous to confess this, but all the readings and carols about the birth of Jesus, and the joy that birth brought to the world, seemed directly applicable to my situation. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t think I was about to give birth to the Messiah, but I did feel very deeply connected to all the women before me in history who had brought joy to themselves and their families by becoming pregnant and giving birth, with or without the intervention of the Holy Spirit.
Of course I can blame the hormones for making me even more sentimental than usual, but even now that feeling still has a resonance. My (incredibly non-sentimental) husband said when Anna was born that he felt the reason that the birth of a baby was so special was that it literally brought more love into the world. It sounds a bit soppy, but it’s also profoundly true – the huge love I feel for Anna, the love my husband feels, and her grandparents and aunts and uncles, hasn’t in any way diminished the love we all felt already for our friends and families, it’s just added to it. And in many cases enhanced it – I love my husband more than ever now that we’ve created a baby together, and I’ve never loved my parents more than I have since the overwhelming love I felt for my own child demonstrated with total clarity exactly how much they love me.
Sadly I’ve had two miscarriages this year, and that has brought home to me more than ever what an incredible privilege it is to give birth to a baby. This morning I was, predictably, moved to tears when I saw Anna in the Nursery and Reception Christmas Show at school. 150 three, four and five year olds singing their hearts out would melt the love child of Scrooge and Cruella de Vil; it’s left me in the mood which I’m afraid forces you to endure this slightly saccharine blog post.
Anna has asked Father Christmas for some chocolate money and a new ball. Modest requests, especially when contextualised against a friend’s six-year old who wants an i-pad. So perhaps the incredible innocence doesn’t last that long, but while I have a little girl whose eyes turned to saucers when she saw the lit-up Christmas tree, and was thrilled to be given some tinsel to put up in her bedroom, and has practised her songs and actions for the show over and over again I feel very lucky, and very Christmassy.
A footnote to provide contrast : –
Anna refused to wear her hat this morning, in spite of the freezing fog. We fought about it all the way to school, and, because my daughter has a will of iron, the hat was still in my hand (having been rammed on and yanked off several times) when we arrived at nursery. Anna’s teacher, Ingrid, knowing nothing of my struggles, smiled at her and said “You need your hat on this morning, Anna, it’s very cold”; whereupon Anna snatched the hat off me and had it on her head quicker than you could say “useless mother”. I wonder if Ingrid would fancy a career change – live in nanny in my slightly draughty and very untidy spare room?