Christmastime is a treasured time of the year for many people. It is a time to spend with families, making memories and experiencing the goodness in others. Holiday traditions such as trimming a tree, singing carols, the eggnog (can’t forget about that!) and gifts, when I think back at my own childhood, provoke warm memories of family, those whom we considered family and special friends. I always thought that I would, at some point in my adult life, have the things my parents had that made them uniquely parents… children.
When I met my husband years ago, we knew we wanted to start a family, but I wanted to wait a year or so before we made the leap into parenthood. First of all, hubby and I were an Internet couple, one of the first to fall in love, meet and marry (in that exact order) in the age where it was not commonplace . We had a total of four dates, the fourth one being our wedding, over a grand total of six months. I wanted to take a year to get used to one another, to settle into a life. He lived in Oregon, and I was living down here in Florida when we met. I am the one who picked up my life and moved it all the way across country to settle in the Pacific northwest. Maybe not ideal for most couples but we made it work.
The one year mark came and went, and as planned I discontinued my contraception (which I actually took for reasons other than birth control) and we played the monthly roulette game watching for signs of an impending pregnancy. As time and probably a little Divine providence would have it, hubby and I were never blessed with children. We began with life-changing medical problems at the end of our second year of marriage, almost to the day. First it was hubby, then it was me, and among all of the doctoring, medicating, therapies, trips back and forth to hospitals, MRIs, CT Scans, I think you get the picture, my dream of bearing children slipped away with every new diagnosis, every new discovery.
Looking back at our first eighteen years of marriage, and how quickly illness can make the time go, we can see the time spent doing everything else but raising a family. It was always a discussion that simmered on the back burner, and never actually came to fruition. In some ways (well okay, most ways) I can understand how children never came into our lives. Yes, there was always adoption but the cost kept us from pursuing that option. And besides, who would give an infant or toddler to a couple with so many medical issues they don’t fit on a double sided pieces of paper? We discussed fostering children, but I could never bear to have a child that I love taken from me, especially if I knew the child would be returning to questionable situations. I admire those who can do that, but I just couldn’t.
So, these little people, the ones that never came to be, are the most missed at Christmas. This joyous season is tailor made for children. The wonder of all of the lights, the family traditions, the tasty treats, the school plays, the breathless anticipation of Santa bringing that perfect gift. And it is now more than any other time of year that the hollow spot in my soul seems most vacant. Other families share pictures of their kids, have funny stories to share, and the looks on their little faces should make me feel warm and fuzzy. Our home is missing the squeals of excitement on Christmas morning, missing the sounds of quiet footsteps down the hall, the giggles and quarrels, the wonderful mess of toys and games and mountains of wrapping paper. But we are also missing the opportunity to pass along each of our treasured Christmas memories to our children, to make our own memories, to share old traditions and create new ones, to make cookies and decorate gingerbread houses, to teach them what the season means, and what the love of God has to do with every bit of it.
This Christmas, hold your children tightly and thank God for them. And say a prayer for those who miss the children that never were.
God bless, and Merry Christmas!