It’s the first Monday of the new year after the holidays, day after the Epiphany. For many this signals the end of everything Christmas. What if I told you that Christmas is just the beginning of this season? That Christmas day and the 12 days that follow are the mere tip of the icicle? That in the older Catholic tradition the Christmas season lasts all through January right into Feb. 2?
I have been experiencing the length of the Christmas season this year more than others in a unique way. I have the blessing of being very pregnant, due to deliver our fourth baby in 10 days, and this Christmas has offered me the invitation to reflect a little deeper upon the story of and circumstances surrounding Christmas, most particularly in empathizing and experiencing with Mary how arduous that journey must have been with all the discomforts of those final days, which I currently experience in such a real way.
I’ve been aware of the “Christmas Season” for decades, but hadn’t really put any thought into the rationale behind this segment of Christmas time that we are now entering: this quiet that follows the big celebration of Christ’s birth, when the Star, the Shepherds, the Angels and Wise Men with their sheep and embroidered robes and glorious voices are nothing more than echoes and dusty footprints. This is the postpartum, the 4th trimester of Mary.
I think of how quick we are in our society to put away the old and look forward to the next holiday, the next exciting new thing, a new year full of new achievements. How quick we are to forget the beauty and sacredness of this postpartum time. And I wonder if there may be a similarity in our disposition, as a society as a whole, towards the postpartum time of Mary and the postpartum time in general for every mother.
It’s a season we often don’t speak about, a time we can easily forget or look-over, a time we can easily under-appreciate or truly respect. In a world that’s all about productivity, is it possible that despite our well-intentioned acceptance of this parental leave, subconsciously we think of it as a luxury without truly giving it is place of worth? Is it an afterthought, just like these days, until the next holiday or season?
For me, it’s been a wake-up call and an invitation to reflect more on what Mary experienced in those early days of vulnerability with sleep and privacy violated by the world of man and beast, along with, hormonal-provoked emotional turbulence, and yes, the basking in awe and gratitude, the healing and growing, and transition and change and bonding. This is the first time my time of postpartum will coincide with that of hers. It is my prayer that she will extend to me some of her wisdom and guidance.