Unto Us a Child is Born
Whatever your belief, or non-belief, there is this: here, in the midst of the cold and the dark, we celebrate the birth of a child. A child born in oppression and poverty. In my faith, the birth of this child was accompanied by spiritual portents, or so the story goes. I believe this child and the faith we have created around him is rooted in love.
Tonight, in front of the hearth pictured above, I sat with my wife and children, a sister in law and two brothers in law. We read the Gospel according to Luke, then ‘Twas The Night Before Chirstmas, then A Child’s Christmas in Wales by Dylan Thomas. Part of this ritual I have married into, another part, the Dylan Thomas part, I introduced. My son, Griffen, who is eleven, asked if he could read Luke (which he referred to as “Luke”). He did. Then my daughter Ella who is almost eight read the ‘Twas The Night, alternating verses with Uncle Ted (who she calls Uncle Monkey). Then we passed Dylan’s poem around, reading it aloud from start to finish, laughing, and savoring the word-pudding he made.
It’s events like these that banish my cynicism and keep my Quaker “simple-meter” dialed down. My kids are associating this holiday with an ancient story, and the sensation of being surrounded in love. They are learning about the birth of Jesus. They have a visceral connection to holiness. How do we make sure our kids aren’t entrapped in the overwhelming culture of materialism Christmas has accrued? By making the non-materialistic rituals even better, and placing them – regularly – at the center of our lives. And then, once or twice a year, exalting them, maybe in the name of a baby born in a barn. A blessed baby with enormous potential, the same as all babies everywhere.