What Christmas?

Tyler and I have been struggling with getting into the holiday spirit. Not, like, feeling grinchy, but literally not feeling like it is Christmas at all. We aren't setting up a tree, decorating our house, going to Christmas events, shopping or wrapping presents. We just haven't even been feeling like its Christmastime. Its just a very different December for us. Its just hard to be involved in the holiday season when you are in the NICU 8-10 hours a day. 

Christmas? What Christmas?

So, having been feeling this way all week, we went to church on Sunday. It was testimony meeting and, trust me, if you want to feel the spirit go to testimony meeting at Primary Children's Hospital. We were so uplifted by the faith of some incredible parents who shared their stories with the congregation. One couple's story especially struck our hearts. After years of infertility they had finally gotten pregnant, but their son was born with a terminal syndrome. Despite all the efforts they made, the doctors had assured them he would die. Tyler and I stole tearful glances at each other while we listened to both the wife and husband share their testimonies. We could certainly understand the hearts of this sweet couple. 

When the husband bore his testimony he completely changed how I'd been feeling about Christmas. He talked about their son, about all of our children, about how "not ideal" our situations are. He said he'd been thinking about how we really romanticize the birth of the Savior. At first, I was confused by what he meant, then he explained, "Artists paint beautiful nativity scenes and we talk about it like it was so perfect and quaint. But, honestly, how difficult it must have been for Mary and Joseph to bring Jesus into the world under such not ideal circumstances. Mary gave birth in a stable where cattle or sheep slept and ate. She laid Christ in a manger, which comes from the french word mangerai that means "to eat." She swaddled her son, the Savior of the world, and laid him in a trough. How many times a day, an hour do we sanitize and wash our hands in the NICU?? And Mary and Joseph were trying to care for their new infant son in a stable, surrounded by filthy animals. If anyone can understand having a child born in the most not ideal circumstance, it is Mary, Joseph and Heavenly Father." I had never thought of the birth of the Savior that way before. I had never thought how hard that must have been for Mary, knowing how special her son was, and not even being able to have a clean place to lay him to sleep.  Now I understood what he had meant, and what it meant to all of us. The Lord understands our hearts. He understands that this is not the ideal way parents imagine bring their children into the world. He understands because His son was not born under perfect or ideal circumstances, either. 

Since listening to this man's testimony, I suddenly feel more connected with Christmas than before. As the meeting closed and we sang Away in a Manger, I imagined the nativity scene as it really was. I pictured the humble stable, the animals, Mary, Joseph and their baby. I thought about our humble hospital room, the nurses, Tyler, Max and me.
I thought about how greatness can be born from the most not ideal of circumstances.