We had some friends visit us on Christmas eve, and one of them asked us, “How is Christmas different with a new born baby?” It was a very good question. Between all the diaper changing, feeding, rocking, laundry, washing, and trying to get as much sleep as possible, I have not had much time to reflect on this question or on Christmas. Over the last few days, in the midst of celebrating Christmas with family, eating great food, and opening gifts, I’ve reflected on this question. Here are a few things I’ve been noticing about having a baby at Christmas.
– There are some (like my mother, father-in-law, sister, and brother-in-law) that are content just holding Alena for hours and watching her, no matter what she is doing. They are enthralled by everything that she does, even if she is just sleeping.
– There are some that are super-excited whenever Alena does something interesting (lift her head, smile, hiccup, sneeze, or eat), but get bored easily when nothing is happening. This list includes my father, mother-in-law, and brother.
– Then there are some (like my friends and cousins) that are hesitant to hold Alena, thinking that she is too fragile as a new-born and not wanting to hurt her. They watch from a distance with interest.
– The last group are those that are not that interested in newborns but are looking forward to when Alena grows older, as a toddler or maybe even later, as an adult.
At Christmas as many people around the world celebrate the birth of Jesus, I also notice a variety of responses.
– There are those that are content spending much time with Jesus, no matter what Jesus is doing (or not doing). They just deeply enjoy His company.
– There are those that are very excited whenever Jesus does something amazing (healing, deep worship experience, miracle, etc), but get bored when nothing is happening.
– There are those that watch from a distance with interest, but are not ready to engage with Jesus.
– Then there are those that are not interested in the new-born Jesus yet, waiting for Jesus to grow older before engaging. In fact, it might be the other way around. That it’s these people that are waiting to grow older before they are ready to engage with Jesus.
2) Baby Alena knows how to get my attention (and so does Jesus)
Alena has a healthy set of lungs. For a tiny little baby, she is surprisingly loud. Before Alena was born, I was worried that I would not hear her cry (I am quite a deep sleeper and can sleep through alot of noise) and she would end up starving. Now that Alena is 3 weeks old, I do not worry about this anymore.
I am glad that she knows how to scream to get my attention, or else I would not be able to get up at 2am in the morning to feed her. It is necessary for the survival of newborn babies that they cry very loud, to communicate to their parents that they need eat.
In the same way, I am very glad that Jesus knows how to get my attention. Many times I worry that I will miss the voice of Jesus in my life. But having experienced the amazing ability of a newborn baby to get my attention, and knowing that God designed babies to be able to do this, I now worry less that Jesus will not be able to get my attention if He needed to.
3) Baby Alena is helping me grow less selfish, and more selfless (as is Jesus).
I believe one of the goals in life is to become less self-centered and more other-centered; to become less selfish and more selfless. Alena’s gift to me has been to train me to grow more selfless. This training is grueling, terribly difficult and frustrating (especially in the wee hours of the night), but I know that it is good for me.
The most difficult times are after a long day when Alena is fussy and will not sleep and all I want to do is sleep. Or when my wife Olive is even more tired than I am (because she is still recovering from labour and also sick), but all I want to do is sleep and I get bitter that I have to do all the work. Those are the times when I am most tempted to ignore my wailing newborn and focus on my needs. But having a baby with a healthy set of lungs and living in a small apartment makes it almost impossible to ignore Alena. Eventually I end up grumpily (is that even a word?) getting out of bed to tend to my daughter’s needs.
In a similar way, Jesus is training me to become more selfless. This often happens by placing people into my life (family, friends, strangers) who challenge me to love others as I love myself; to serve them first. Though many times this is difficult and frustrating, it is good for me and helps me grow into a more humble and selfless version of myself. And I am extremely grateful for this.
Here are a few other random insights about having a newborn (though not really related to Christmas):
-Burping a baby is surprisingly satisfying
-Baby formula makes a baby’s poo gaggingly stinky
-When your baby pees on a loved one, it is hilarious
-When you pick up your baby and she stops crying, it is one of the most satisfying things in the world