Hey Mamas, how’s it going? Putting a big shiny ribbon on another flawless Christmas celebration with your saintly family? Sighing with contentment as another holiday season peacefully wends its way to a relaxing close? Kids all soaring to exuberant heights as they exclaim over and over how blessed and grateful they are to belong to such a loving, perfect family?
Yeah. Me neither.
I have approached this glorious season in all different ways, desperate to eke out a holiday that is stress-free and holy. Every year I am determined not to let the harried rush of preparation distract me from the true meaning of Christmas, and every year it does. And so, the next year I rouse myself to be more disciplined—to no avail.
I *know* that the Christ-child came for persons such as these—you, me, and all the other wild souls who can barely take a breath during this rushed time. *He* is the perfect gift, and we only need to bend and contemplate the enormity of it. And many times during this season, I do, and I have. But it all feels so inadequate, doesn’t it? In my desire to simplify things, I have made a mess. In my feelings of remorse, I have tasted despair. And in my fervor, I have lost sight of what I really should have been asking for all along.
The second reading of the Fourth Sunday of Advent (Rom 1:1-7) tells us what we *really* need this Christmas, and yes, essentially every day of our lives. Paul is writing to the faithful Romans and spends most of the verses introducing himself. He calls himself a slave of Christ, set apart for the Gospel, which was promised through the birth of God’s Son, descended from David, receiving his grace, etc. etc.. It’s the last half of verse 7 that really gets to the heart of his message:
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
As I sat in the pew at Mass and heard that last sentence, I felt my shoulders relax, my jaw unclench. And I breathed for what seemed like the first time in quite awhile. Grace and peace. These are the gifts given to us through the birth of Christ. And we moms know that this is no. small. thing. We need these gifts at every turn: the grace to respond in love and charitable correction when a child is acting out; the peace to not get rattled when a family member responds in anger or disgust at our personal boundaries or hard fought convictions; to simply rest in the knowledge of God’s love for us, as we strive fervently to be holy. For this life is a wild mess, and we desperately need our Savior, and to cling tightly to his gifts of grace and peace.