Sunshine seemed to follow Grandmom Otti wherever she went. I thought she was born of royalty. She trimmed her Christmas tree with bright ornaments and real candles brought over from her home country. At nineteen years old grandmom migrated to the U.S. from Germany. Eventually she met my grandfather, who migrated from Prussia. I knew little about grandmom’s early life until she wrote it down when she was ninety years old. Sent from her home at an early age Grandmom wrote, “My aunt took me home to live with her when I was two years old to relieve my mother, I guess.” She lived between the two homes traveling by train alone much of the time. Grandmom lost two brothers in WWI and lost faith in her country in WWII when Hitler inflicted terror on humanity. Shame kept her from returning to visit her homeland. Sunshine didn’t follow Grandmom, but somehow she managed to emanate it. Her bravery and her positivity in the face of adversity continue to impact me today.
We have many accounts of Jesus’ last few years of life. We know little about His birth and formative years. Matthew and Luke offer birth narratives, though each account differs from the other, and neither line up well historically. Recent historic-critical thinkers and scholars offer alternative views of Jesus’ birth story, challenging our current understanding and traditions. Jesus didn’t write his life story down before He died like my Grandmom but there are some clues to His early years. Stepping back in time and gaining knowledge of the lives of our ancestors, including Jesus and the people He interacted with, enrich, inspire, and deepen our connection to them, and to Him.
When I bottle feed River, my seven month old grandson, he stares into my eyes and I stare into his. I sense a powerful love force flowing between us. Imagine Mary nursing Jesus, their eyes interlocked. Imagine Joseph’s worry during delivery. Imagine relatives bustling about to attend to the new family. The veins of Love reach back to the beginning of time then fill our bodies and reach forward to the next generation, connecting us as one. This invisible traveling Love force has the power to nurture, inspire, and to transcend destruction and suffering. Don’t be afraid to step into the sacred and human magic of Christmas. The ancient Love story continues with you.
If you want to read more about scholars’ research into the Nativity stories, here are a couple of resources:
Aleteia.org: The real reason why there was “no room at the inn”