’It is really hard to wait.
’Do you remember how you felt waiting for Christmas? I do. My sisters and I used to make special Christmas plans. We started in the summer, when it was hot and hard to sleep. We imagined that we were in the cold of winter waiting for Santa to come. We would plan out how we would wake up early on Christmas morning and make our way to the Christmas tree, ever so slowly, in case we interrupted Santa.
We planned out different scenarios. If we discovered Santa, we decided that we would run back and hide under our covers or maybe we would be courageous enough to say hello. No, hiding was our best option and the one which insured we would still have gifts waiting for us. If the coast was clear, we would grab our stockings and bring them back to bed, or open them on the couch, in full view of the tree. Then we would set up pillows and blankets and lay beside the lighted tree, staring at the beautifully wrapped packages until our parents woke up.
I loved lying beneath the tree and staring up at the lights. We used those big colored bulbs to light our tree. They were shiny and hot to the touch. I loved touching the bulbs to feel the heat and then quickly moving my finger to tap the wrapping paper and cool the stinging sensation.
I still have vivid memories of making and executing those Christmas plans. We made them for years, even long after we understood the role our parents had in helping Santa get all those gifts. It was a magical time. Though it was a long time coming, Christmas was worth the wait. We waited in joyful expectation.
I will never forget the Christmas that our plans exceeded our expectations. We crept down the stairs carefully to take our place beneath the tree. To our amazement, we found dusty footprints that were tinged with snow. They ran around the tree and back out the door! We were certain that it was Santa. Any doubts were put to rest, at least for another year.
One year, to our shock and surprise, we were able to implement the Santa sighting scenario. As we lay under the Christmas tree, we could look out the front window and see the porch light illuminating the dark outside. As a hooded shadow appeared at the front door, we heard a knock! My sister and I decided that Santa had forgotten a present and he locked himself out! I opened the front door to find my brother instructing me quietly not to wake the house. As he snuck by us to his room, we wondered if he could be Santa’s helper. We decided to keep his secret and that worked well for my brother.
Waiting for Christmas was hard but it was filled with joyful expectation. There is nothing like the joyful anticipation that comes with waiting for the birth of a baby. Even though I threw up for the entire pregnancy of my first born son, I loved being pregnant. I kept a pregnancy journal, watched what I ate and tried to limit the stress. I was acutely aware of the fact that I was not alone in my body any more. A little human life was growing in me.
When we found out on the sonogram that we were having a boy, we were very excited! We named him David and began to relate to our baby as our son. We anticipated his birth with great joy.
The pregnancies of each of my four children taught me how to wait with joyful expectation. Despite the morning sickness, the varicose veins and other difficulties, pregnancy was truly joyful time of preparation.
When I was very pregnant at nine months with my eldest daughter Anna, that joyful expectation gave way to some anxiety and exhaustion. She was my first vaginal birth after having a C-section with my son. The joyful anticipation was tinged with some doubt that maybe I wouldn’t be able to deliver the baby as I had planned.
At that same time, I met someone who was writing a book. The man was really struggling to get it finished. When he met me and saw that I was nine-months pregnant, he began to complain about how writing his book was much like giving birth. He claimed that the labor he was going through was much harder than an actual birth. It required his total dedication. Words like: clueless, insensitive and selfish flooded my thoughts along with other expletives that I dismissed so as to not expose my unborn child to cursing.
After 24 hours of labor and intense pushing, my precious Anna was born. The labor was all I anticipated and more. It was worth the struggle when I held my daughter in my arms. That author did give birth to a book and still he claimed his labor was harder.
I am in the final stages before I have the first book I have written in my hands. Ironically, I have been actively working on it for about nine months. When my coach suggested to me that writing a book has been compared to having a baby, I let out a groan. Then I laughed and told him that story. While I agree that writing a book is laborious and the anticipation is exciting, it still can’t compare with the birth of my children.
As I approach the final days before I have the book in my hands, (the book is up on Amazon now), and I am reminded of that joyful expectation for Christmas. It is a little like waiting for a baby to be born.
I hope, that like giving birth, I also shed the few pounds I gained while writing. While hard cider and ice cream is not a great choice for pregnant moms, it is sometimes helpful for anxious authors.
Let the Advent season and all the preparations for Christmas increase within you a sense of joyful expectation, waiting for the Lord to come.
Eileen Benthal is a writer, speaker and wellness coach with a B.A. in Theology from Franciscan University. She is the author of Breathing Underwater: A Caregiver’s Journey of Hope.
Eileen and her husband Steve live in Jamesport and have four young adult children. Their youngest, Johanna, is a teenager with special needs.
Eileen can be reached at FreeIndeedFreelance.com.
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