This post is twelve years old. I wrote this during our first Christmas with Summer. I thought that I would repost is here. our family is currently in the placement process again, but I can’t disclose much about it at this time (though I hope to say more soon), so a reflection on past Christmas Joy (especially during this stranger-than-usual Yuletide) felt right.
God Bless and Merry Christmas
There is nothing quite like Christmas time. There is no other time of the year that I enjoy more. I am one of those people who look forward every year to that moment when radio stations begin playing Christmas music. I am not of the opinion that Christmas music comes too soon. (In fact, I question how anyone can be opposed to radio stations that stop playing songs about casual love, one-night-stands, or simple hedonism and begin playing songs that glorify virginity, peace, joy and the birth of Christ.) There are so many elements of this season that resonate for me. The scene at the Manger, the annunciation, the visit of the magi, the star, the flight to Egypt as well as candy canes, Carols, gifts and yes, Virginia, Santa Claus all make this season meaningful, year in and year out.
This year is especially meaningful for Mandy and I. When we started our adoption process in 2006 we hoped to have a little one grace our home by last Christmas. This didn’t happen. We bought a stocking hung it beside ours and prayed that another Christmas would not go by before a child entered our home. This Christmas we will fill that stocking for our little girl, we will include her in family traditions from the spiritual to the quirky. We will tell her about a God who loved her so much that He sent His only son as a gift to all.
As I reflect on Christmas this year, I am reminded of Simeon the Priest. This is a man that doesn’t get a lot of attention at Christmas, but deserves so much. Simeon was an older man, but God had promised him that he would not die until he saw the Messiah. Imagine, year after year of waiting. Imagine, the anticipation, the nervous excitement as children were brought to him for blessing. I wonder if he saw the parents coming for a dedication and got excited thinking that this could be the one. I also wonder if he felt a little depressed as each family left, knowing he still had to wait. Yet, Simeon knew that God is a keeper of promises and does not have people wait in vain. So, everyday Simeon went to the temple expecting God to, well, be God. I can only imagine the joy Simeon felt as Mary and Joseph approached. He must have been beside himself with joy. Simeon was undoubtedly old and weary of the wait. He must have desperately wanted to let slip this mortal coil and now he was holding God’s promise fulfilled. “God, you can now release your servant; release me in peace as you promised. With my own eyes I’ve seen your salvation; it’s now out in the open for everyone to see.” (Luke 1:32msg)
We understand a little of the waiting as well as the joy at a promise fulfilled. Even though she can’t articulate it, we believe our daughter feels the same way. For 3 ½ years she has waited for the promise of a family. Foster parents, social workers, therapists, volunteers and staff came and went, but none of them were the promise fulfilled. It must have been confusing and tiresome. Every ounce of her being must have yearned for the waiting to be over and for God to provide her with a family. Yet, she never let these situations rob her of her joy and infectious good spirit. We believe she gets the point of family. She refers to us a “mommy” and “daddy” (something she has never referred to staff or other foster parents as). She refers to her home as “my home.” She refers to our family as “family.” Even though none of us knew it at the time, we have all three been waiting for each other and God brought us together as just the right time.
We also believe that she gets the point of Christmas. This was proved the other day as we were getting ready for Church. Mandy said to her, “It’s time for Church.” She looked at Mandy and said, “ch-u-ch.” Then she said, “Baby Y-esus?” She then walked over to our little nativity set and picked up the baby Jesus and gave Him a hug. Yeah, she gets it.
One final thought: When Gabriel tells Mary that she is going to have a child. Mary is a bit astonished and asks Gabriel how something so wonderful can happen. Gabriel looks at her and replies that nothing is too wonderful for God (some translations have nothing is impossible, Luke 1:37). We are only too aware of the truth of this passage as Mandy and I often wonder if this is all too good to be true or if our little girl is too wonderful. In a season of hope and peace it is easy to forget that nothing is too wonderful for God. As people ready themselves for New Year’s resolutions, goals and plans it is easy to forget that nothing is too wonderful for God. We know that many people are finding it hard to hold onto that truth this year. We know that finances make planning for the next year difficult. We know that many people are hurting with the loss of a loved one. We know that hundreds of thousands of foster children are waiting for the promise of a family. We know that families are waiting for the promise of a child. Around the world we know that millions are waiting for their forever family. We know that relationships don’t always work out the way we hope. However, our Christmas prayer is that you too will find the truth of God’s promises in this Holiday season. Remember that peace and hope can still be found. Remember that the story of Christmas is not about the magi’s gifts to Christ as much as the gift of Christ. Remember that miracles still happen and that nothing, absolutely nothing, is too wonderful for God.