I know that it's not even Thanksgiving, but I've been in the Christmas mood. And with Marcus and Samantha's baby due any time, I've been thinking about babies. So, here's a short story to get you thinking about Christmas and babies:
As I boarded the airplane, I hoped that I would get some quiet time to read or even take a nap. It had been an extremely long week, but I was on my way home. Following the little blue lights on the floor, I made it to my seat, only three rows from the last. It was a full flight and many of the overhead bins were already closed, so the flight attendant helped me find space for my carry-on in the upper compartment in the very back. I walked back to Aisle 45 and fell into seat A, relieved to be off my feet.
The rest of the people on the flight were slowly finding their seats. Why does it take so long to board a plane? Everyone was courteous, but you could feel the stress of the holiday season. A couple argued about who was going to sit by the window as they made it to the last row. An older woman moved slowly to her seat a couple of rows diagonally in front of me. She was nervous and didn't seem to be sure of herself as she stuffed her shopping bag underneath the seat in front of her. A man in a suit sat in immediately across the aisle from me, tapping his fingers methodically on his phone.
Then, everyone's worst nightmare . . . seat 45B was assigned to a mother with her incredibly little baby. Now don't get me wrong, I love babies. Just not on an airplane. At least he was sleeping for the moment.
Trying to be polite and hide my disappointment, I asked if I could help her get situated.
"If you don't mind, I could use some help with my carry-on," she replied.
But before I even made it out into the aisle, the man in the suit had put his phone down and was rearranging luggage to make room for the woman's bag in the upper compartment. He must have been having a better day than I was. He smiled and commented on how cute the baby was.
I shifted back to my seat and fastened my seat belt as the mother and child sat down beside me. Although it was a little awkward, she managed to get her seatbelt on and tightened, all while holding her sleeping child.
"How old is your baby?" I asked in a quiet voice.
"He's 8 weeks today," she whispered in reply. Although I had three children of my own, they were all teenagers now and it seemed funny to hear someone talk about a child's age in weeks.
Our quiet conversation continued, and I learned that baby "John" and his mother were traveling to visit her parents for the Christmas holidays. Her husband was going to join them at the end of the week. She was looking forward to having her mother's physical and emotional help for a while. Her mother visited for a few days when John was first born, but she explained that it had been a hard 7 weeks since she left.
According to his mom, John had not been an easy baby. She was breastfeeding, and he still wanted to eat every two hours. He slept okay in the daytime, but wanted to play in between the nighttime feedings. With a sigh of relief, she did say that he didn't cry too much. Because when he did, she explained, he was so loud!
I don't know if she heard my sigh of relief, but I was so glad that he was not crying.
As the flight attendant announced that we should prepare for departure, the young mother reclined her head against the headrest and closed her eyes. I used this time to examine Baby John more closely. He was dressed in light blue and wrapped in a green fleece blanket. He looked so content as he slept. His nose was the size of a small marshmallow and his pink lips twitched a little every once in a while. His tiny fingers were clenched in two little fists. It's hard to believe my own children had ever been that small. But I'm sure that they must have been about the same size or maybe even smaller since they all arrived early.
Memories began to surface and I remembered each of my children in their earliest weeks. My oldest daughter was an easy baby, sleeping well and crying only when there was some kind of problem. She tricked my husband and I into thinking that parenting was easy. That's probably why we had our second child so soon after the first. And boy, was our second baby a challenge! Looking back on things, I think she probably had colic because was never happy unless she was being held. When our third child came along, you would think we would have everything down-pat, but he had constant ear infections, keeping him (and us) up at night.
And who could forget the weight of the responsibility. A baby is so helpless. In one night, my husband and I became responsible for the life of a human being. Yes, that's right. We had a life or death responsibility. Even though you convince yourself that you know what you're doing, it's impossible to forget how big a responsibility you have as a parent.
Despite the trials and responsibility, the joy of the snuggles, cooing and smiles were the strongest memories. I thought about the little noises, the baby smells, the soft skin and the love of a parent that is hard to explain.
Recalling the joys of parenthood, I dozed off in seat 45A. And I must have been dreaming of babies because I didn't wake when John began to cry; his cries fit right into my dreams. For a little while at least. I rubbed my eyes as I was brought back to the present by his screams. His mom was right--he was loud!
As I surveyed the plane, there were more than a few unhappy people. The man with the suit had pulled out noise-canceling headphones and was continuing with his nap. But I could tell he was not really asleep. He was just doing his best to ignore what was happening across the aisle. John's mother looked distressed as she stood up and began bouncing the baby in an attempt to calm him.
Through the cries, I heard the pilot's voice over the speakers. We would shortly be arriving at our destination.
And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us.
Because God’s children are human beings—made of flesh and blood—
the Son also became flesh and blood.
Where do you find yourself in the story? Where do you find Jesus?