Four Christmases ago he sat in my family living room and opened presents. My brothers and sisters were painfully polite in front of him, a genuinely amused behind his back. It's only fitting that My Christmas Angel made a gut-call, last-minute, crush-stricken decision to fly to Florida and be with me on December 25th. To re-phrase Dorothy Custer: "And after that, there was only Caleb."
The following year he didn't just spend the holiday with us -- his entire family did too. My mom had cancer again and we didn't know it yet. I felt 'so fat' after gaining confident, happy, carefree, un-insecure, believed-I-was-beautiful dating weight. We wined + dined + hiked + biked + couch-snuggled our way through the summer and fall. Research shows that women tend to add pounds when they are in happy, long-term relationships and lose pounds when they are going through a break-up. I don't know. I just liked pasta carbonara, and him, and life.
Last year was the big change. The Christmas before I was 'just' his girlfriend, and then all of a sudden in one year I was married to him and growing his firstborn son. It freaks me out looking back at the pace, but it felt perfect at the time. We cut down a tree together that year, a new experience for both of us. "Next year we'll bring a BABY with us!" we noted. "Promise we'll still do things like this with a baby?" "Promise." Pine needles and cinnamon were a couple out of, well, three smells I could tolerate. The smell of "fresh air" and "clean bed sheets" and old books and newly washed hair disgusted me. Our apartment was intolerable. Saved by the evergreen! As soon as our (not so little) tree was installed, I could manage living in my own home again. Caleb helped me step out of urined pants and underwear, he tied my hair up high (the best that he could), he immediately handed me warm, damp washcloths so I could wipe off my nose and mouth. He bleached the floors over and over. He caught my vomit in his hands. He made me three meals, and I'd eat none of them and when I asked for a fourth ("I really think I can eat Honey Nut Cheerios. THAT is what I want. I'm sorry.") he made it happily. He rubbed my feet because I couldn't stand the smell of him and I needed him far away.
It's still hard to believe a person came out of me. My body grew a body. It's just... earwax comes out of my body. Saliva and sweat come out of my body. Hair comes out of my body. And this other body came out too. For me it is like pushing words out of my head, onto paper and then my story spoke back to me with a wet "craaaaaa-Ah!" It came out of (ripped through? literally tore through?) me and my heart and it was hard, with bones and cheeks and a reproductive system. It was hard meaning it wasn't a cloud or a puff of mist or a memory. I could touch My Living Story. He came out of us, and we love him just because. He reminds us every day that Hope Has Come. Hope had mini-bones and kitty-cries, too. Hope looked up at His mama, too, and just His eye-contact alone whispered "The LORD comforts Zion. Your LORD reigns. Behold, I am with you." Her breasts dripped milk and it dried in her clothes and she had to wash Hope's milk out of her garments. Hope has come, and He came very tiny, and He rules the world with Truth + Grace. Rowdy is a Wonder of His Love.
Christmas with my family. Christmas with my baby. Christmas with my husband. Christmas post-Jesus. Christmas in the details. Christmas in the tears. Christmas in the eye-contact. Christmas in the relief. Christmas in the longing. Christmas in the snow. Christmas in the bitter cold. Christmas for us. Christmas because we matter much. Christmas with Bing Crosby and Mariah Carey. Christmas with my mom. Christmas for victory! Christmas for 'at last!' Christmas because my boys and tree farms. Christmas because He came happily, He wanted to. Christmas for cookies -- homemade or storebought and definitely full of fat. Christmas because a teenage mama swept a swept a slimy, wailing, cheesy, helpless, mess of a baby into her arms and pronounced love to Him. Christmas because He loved her more. Christmas because of delivery. Christmas since The Word of God tore through the canals of Humanness and was attached to a woman by an umbilical cord. Christmas because our soul's have worth and we are loved by a Very Good King. I don't think the beautiful starkness of glowing tree (or even candle) in a dark place, in a cold season, is missed by Him.
Merry eff-ing charming real hopeful Christmas, rascals.