Christmas article in newpaper

From The Daily Star newspaper in Oneonta, NY:

Bryan called this week to tell me that I have a new granddaughter. Her name is Aria.

New babies at Christmas time. It happens. And it’s simply amazing. Full of wonder and glory.

It makes me think, with due respect to Christ Jesus, that wonder and glory are not destined only to his birth in history.

But, I still celebrate the birth of Christ as a religious holiday.

In a Pew Research survey titled, “Americans Say Religious Aspects of Christmas Are Declining in Public Life,” it was reported that, “most Christians (72 percent) say they mark the day as a religious holiday, including 60 percent who celebrate as more of a religious holiday than a cultural occasion and 12 percent who mark it as both a religious holiday and a cultural holiday.

Religion is important to me because I need something that explores wonder and glory, rather than only studies the transient things we call physical realities. I need something more than blood to define family and love.

I remember 30 years ago, exactly. I was nine months pregnant. Most people saw my baby bump and were happy for me and my husband. But a couple of people scowled and told me having a baby at Christmas time is a horrible idea.

I discovered it wasn’t blasphemy they worried about, but that they had birthdays at Christmas time and felt cheated. They told me, “My birthday is always forgotten. And if it’s remembered, someone grabs a present from under the tree and gives it to me for my birthday.”

I didn’t ignore their comments. They had a point, or at least alluded to a point.

When we become mesmerized by an occasion, or by one human being, we lose sight of wonder and glory for all.

The intent of Christmas is not to depreciate others. So, 30 years ago, I began making efforts to appreciate all signs of wonder and glory, old and new.

Then came Christmas Eve morning. I checked into the hospital and lay in bed, trying to focus on something other than the discomfort that comes with squeezing a baby out between my legs. I thought about the nativity story from the Bible.

The storyline includes a part about a young woman, Mary, who hears an angel’s message of promise, telling her that she’ll conceive and have a baby and call his name Jesus. The promise was fulfilled.

Arguably, there’s the issue about Mary being a virgin or not, but it didn’t affect the birthed idea of a “fulfilled promise.” It did, however, gently persuade my attention away from the labor pains.

Our daughter was born quickly. We went home and she grew up.

As a teenager, this daughter met Bryan, one of her high school classmates. They became good friends.

It didn’t take long before we realized Bryan had a tough home life. His dad left the family when he was a young child and his mom had mental problems. Bryan suffered from verbal abuse, anger and fear.

He visited our family often.

When encouraging him in life, I had to be receptive to new ways of communicating because he came from such a different place than what I was familiar with. It was difficult, but we all made positive progress.

He was then accepted to attend the local college. Our daughter studied abroad for college and we let Bryan live with us the first year. After he moved out, Bryan hesitated to come visit us without our daughter there.

During the five years it took him to get his college degree, he found a girlfriend. We included them in family events. It was obvious, however, that the couple was falling into the pattern of arguing and compromising in ways that enabled mistrust rather than trust in goodness.

I reminded him we were his family. He didn’t believe me.

I told him, he can have God as a parent, with a family of useful ideas as his family.

He broke up with his girlfriend and spent a year alone, progressing in his career.

God settles the solitary in a home; he leads out the prisoners to prosperity: Psalms 68: 6

Then Bryan met and married a young woman who shines with wonder and glory. After they established a home together. We now have Aria.

Bio of author: Cheryl Petersen lives in Delhi. Her books are “I Am My Father-Mother’s Daughter” and “from science & religion to God: A narrative of Mary Baker Eddy’s Science and Health.”


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