Christmas Remembered

” The Miracle of the Disposable Diapers” or
Gallery owner recalls young family’s Christmas in Taos.

During the wonderful Christmas season, full of bright lights, hopeful anticipation, and sentimental sighs we often recall our own Christmas tales. Their repeated telling weaves into the fabric of Christmas the unique pattern of our own lives.

So, I will begin by telling you that sugar for its own sake has never really appealed to me, it seems too sweet to be really good, out of some kind of cosmic balance somehow. I prefer black licorice, bittersweet chocolate from Europe, and even the desert’s own dark maroon prickly pear . The most precious memories I recall are a bit of both, hard and soft, bitter and sweet, where by contrast some spiritual truth was revealed to me.

One page from the book of my life was turned in the Christmas of 1980. I had given birth to Amy my second daughter that fall, so having an infant that year was part of my Christmas season.

We were living in Taos NM a magical historic place that seemed just made for holidays. Every adobe seemed to sing out to its surroundings by the softly lit luminarias and bright bold red chile ristras hanging on every door. People started making their traditional tamales for the new year and festivities abounded. Even the magnificent surrounding mountain range the Sangre de Christo Mountains named by the Spanish settlers some 400 years ago, were a constant reminder that people made their religion part of their everyday language.

We were attending St James Episcopal Church that was bustling in preparation of the much anticipated and talked about beautiful Christmas Eve service. But, I was reluctant to go, wake up my sleeping baby at 10:30pm for the outside cold winter air and the 7 mile drive into town. Sarah, my oldest was then 4 and insisting we join in the late night fun. I was raised in a non- religious home, so this going to church was new for me and seemed to fill a gap I hadn’t know I had....We went.

As soon as the service began Amy started to cry. I became nervous and agitated which only made her cry some more. I was worried about disturbing the people around me. And, it would have been hard to leave . We were packed in the pew like sardines, with Sarah Amy & I somewhere in the middle of the can.
The minister, a father of four himself, kindly reminded the congregation that this late hour gathering, was for the purpose of honoring a baby. A baby who would ultimately change the course of the world, but who would first cry and sometimes be fussy like Amy was now.

By the time we finally got home, I was totally worn out and exhausted, admonishing myself for going out into the cold cold night on this expedition of faith. Returning to the reality of my life full of burdens and responsibilities, seemed unlike the well dressed people who had sat in the pews next to me.

It was really late now when I realized that I was out of diapers. I was organic enough to want to have my babies at home, but also willing to use disposable diapers to make my life easier. I didn’t even keep cloth diapers reserves ! I was a study in dichotomy to be sure, but alas, one without a diaper when she desperately needed one. This was no small problem. I felt like I was running out of gas,and with my reserve tank on empty.

In 1980 Taos wasn’t like it is today. There were no Wal- Mart or any late night convenience stores, just old Piggly Wiggly which had long since closed. Exasperation easily gave way to anger and self pity, as I began yelling at a God I wasn’t sure even existed. Where was my help when I really needed it ?

I understand now- that the straw that breaks the camels’s back doesn’t have to be any heavier than another straw, just the last one. This is how I was feeling when my Christmas miracle occurred.....

I heard / felt a quiet soft voice say, “look behind the couch “. I thought, now on top of everything, I must be crazy because I’m hearing voices .
“Oh, yea” I said to no one in particular,“I don’t keep diapers there “.
Desperation and curiosity finally got the best of me, and I looked behind the couch. One nicely folded diaper appeared. ( !!!!)
Again the voice, “in the cushion of the big chair” and again, “behind your bed”.

The heavy weights of my world were crashing like hail stones off my shoulders, and replaced by a smooth graceful gratitude dance. I moved from place to place gathering each precious item. In the end, 10 diapers became my possession-enough to last me till Piggly Wiggly opened again on the 26th.

This small miracle- if miracles can ever be weighed, began a process that was to change the course of my life. I learned first hand that a mustard seed of faith is pretty big in God’s economy.

I sat at my kitchen window in LLano Quemada that dark / light night in wonder at a God that mysteriously and miraculously answered a cry for help. It was at that moment that the miracle of a baby born in a virgin birth in Bethlehem , 2000 years ago seemed possible. Proclaiming the birth of a king to shepards in the field, seemed about as unlikely as God using the lack of disposable diapers to get my attention.

Anything seemed imaginable now... I saw in awe the stars that seemed brighter than any night I could ever remember. But, maybe it was that the eyes that were viewing with renewed faith and hope.

Merry Christmas
Psalm 91: 11 “For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways”.