Christmas, the Feast of the Holy Family, and the Feast of Mary, Mother of God are all special feast days that celebrate the gift of Jesus, yes, but also motherhood and family life. Christmas welcomes Jesus as a baby into our world. The Feast of the Holy Family celebrates the ordinariness and holiness of the Holy Family. The Feast of Mary, Mother of God celebrates the honor we give to Mary, as Mother of our Savior.
I was pregnant during the Christmases of 1998, 2001, 2004, 2007 and 2011. Each of those Christmases and other ones, too, I listened to the song, "Breath of Heaven" sung by Amy Grant and cried, of course! Many times I was in the throes of morning sickness or feeling anxious about the upcoming birth. Other times I felt joyful while thinking about my unborn baby. I think Mary felt some of those emotions, too, during her pregnancy with Jesus. Then many more Christmases I nursed a baby or toddler - during the night, on Christmas morning as my older children opened their gifts, and in between cooking dinner. Mary most likely nursed Jesus well into toddlerhood, too, in the midst of her everyday life. Can you imagine nursing the Son Of God? What must that have been like?
I especially enjoy the Feast of the Holy Family, because my family is so important to me, and because I am a member of the Holy Family Institute. Jesus, Mary and Joseph inspire me to try to be more patient and more emotionally present to my family, to play more with my kids, and to just be myself - the person God created me to be. The Holy Family experienced difficult times - fear, needing to flee to a strange country, town gossip - just like we do, but they trusted God would take care of them even when they were afraid. They lived ordinary lives. Mary breastfed baby Jesus, helped him learn to walk and talk, taught him to pray and most likely home educated him, because there were no local schools at that time (an inspiring fact for you homeschoolers!). Mary also snuggled Jesus close, kissed and hugged him, and probably sang him to sleep. All the same things we do with our kids!
Mary was a gentle mother to Jesus and desires to lead us to her Son through our vocation of motherhood. I feel my relationship with Jesus and breastfeeding my children taught me gentleness. It is difficult to stay angry with your toddler while he is nursing to sleep in your arms! All those years waking up multiple times per night to nurse a baby really teach you gentleness, too. If you are nursing your first baby, just know that as your baby gets older and if you have other children in the future, your love, patience and gentleness will grow. Ask Mary to help you be the mother Jesus wants you to be.