I love Christmas. I love so many things about it... the food, the festivities, the feelings, the fun. All of the F's. I love that so many people around the world are celebrating something so deeply personal all at the same time in a variety of public ways. And if you know anything about me, it may shock you that I love the story of Christmas.... as in, the story of the birth of Jesus.
My 'deeply personal' religious story is winding, rooted in interesting experiences, observations, and has yet to have a plot twist or denouement, nevermind a happy ending. Let's just say I have more questions than I feel there are answers. That said, I think the story of baby Jesus is one of the most beautiful I've ever read or heard. The plot is as intriguing as it gets.
A young woman - Mary - pregnant even though she's never had sex. Scared, told that her baby is the son of God. Joseph - a young man, kind and supportive to her. An arduous journey that peaks with her having the baby in a barn with farm animals. Angels making proclamations to people. Can you imagine? Real angels - what would they look and sound like? In my imagination, the sights and sounds and smells of the story are stunning. All of that hope and love and joy and peace embodied in a tiny baby, bundled up in swaddling clothing, who would change the course of the world forever.
Who couldn't love sweet baby Jesus? Babies are cute and I'm sure Baby Jesus was adorable.... but Mary is the real central character here. I love how in all of the manger scenes, it's just her and Joseph and the baby, all looking clean and glowing and happy. Are we to believe that this young girl gave birth with only Joseph to help her? Or are we to believe that Jesus just popped right out, all clean and cute and cuddly? How did they cut the cord? What did they do with the placenta? So many unanswered questions.
I remember from my Catholic days, Jesus was all God and all man. So I think he must have been born like all men, in a painful, hot bloody mess. Having gone through childbirth myself now, I feel I understand a little more about what may have happened that night. Mary was out of her mind with pain for many hours. She may have felt like she was going to die. There was a lot of screaming involved. Jesus was born an adorable, hot, bloody, sticky, gooey mess. Surely there was a midwife to help. Mary breastfed Jesus. She got freaked out by all of the blood and gunk that came out after the baby. This I can related to.
Leaving all these details out of the story and the Nativity Scenes does a disservice to the story and to Mary and that whole experience that night. What it must have been like. So I think in all Nativity scenes from now on, There should be a midwife honored among the wise men. Mary should be shown breastfeeding Jesus. And there should probably be some blood on her clothes and in the hay, but I guess that would scare children.
If you have seen a Nativity Scene like this, show me! I will put it in my yard!