As these O Antiphon days draw us closer to the coming of Christmas, I am surprised to find the sun beating down on central Indiana—bringing us closer to 50 degrees! Such warm (in my opinion) weather is just plain weird for Christmastime—but I am conditioned not only by the northern hemisphere but by 10 years in the area of Indiana known as “The Region” (northwest Indiana) and what some of us lovingly call “The Bend” (South Bend). However, this warm warm weather has allowed me a new luxury in the bleak mid-winter—I can pop my infant daughter in her stroller, wrap her in a blanket, pray that her hat stays on, and take her on longs walks through our neighborhood.
I’ve found that walking with a baby stroller invites self-reflection and dreaming—about myself, the world, and the small child with big blue eyes who is staring back at me…the little carnate one who came to us upon a midnight clear.
As my daughter and I roll past our neighbors’ yards bedecked with Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer’s and Jolly Old St. Nicholas’s, my mind runs through all those Christmas carols which never made much sense to me before—the ones about a poor baby who wakes when cattle are lowing, or lays down her sweet head under stars in the sky.
Our little daughter may not be woken by cattle lowing (she is woken by the microwave, thank you very much) and she thankfully may lay her sweet head down under our warm roof while sleeping in her very own crib. But, my daughter has made these Christmas carols come alive for me with sharp reality: our Savior was born, away in a manger, on a silent night, while shepherds watched their flocks and we heard angels on high. My little girl, whom I can hold in my arms, makes me see the angels, the shepherds, Mary and Joseph, the Christ Child, as more than figurines in my crèche set. Jesus, the incarnate one, came to the world as a newborn babe—and asks that I embrace him as I would my little 7-week-old girl.
Advent invites us—prepares us—to imagine the Christ Child in our arms and to truly claim him as ours—our bearer of peace, joy, and hope beyond believing. This is the unexpected gift our own little tiny child has introduced: the incarnation has never been so real to me as when I’ve held my own infant daughter—our little in-the-flesh gift of God who has already brought with her peace, joy, and much, much hope.
For unto us a child is born—a child, an infant, a baby. May we each in our own worlds, recognize Our Savior in the meekest, the mildest, and the little children around us.