Yesterday, as a bunch of little kids helped me put the Christmas story together in sequence, I got to thinking about Mary and all those strangers arriving unannounced to see the new baby. Can you imagine? First an angel shows up and announces her pregnancy. That would have been enough stranger for me already. Then, exhausted from giving birth, huddled in a stable without her mother or sisters to welcome them and usher them in to see the baby, a batch of filthy shepherds who hadn’t bathed in weeks shows up. Then the KINGS! Well-dressed in rich clothing and driving Rolls-Royces (OK, camels, but still, all the neighbors would surely notice them parked outside and start wagging their tongues!) Can you imagine?
don’t expect all those visitors rattled the baby Jesus in the least.
He was still blissfully unaware of the fact that He was no longer
tethered to his mother’s body. Eating and sleeping were His primary
concerns; the rest was just kind of a blur behind His mother’s face and
voice. I’m guessing that was a little different by the time His first
sister tells of her husband’s grandmother who offended her deeply by
asking about my niece, “Is she strange yet?” Turns out this is a German
phrase meaning “Is she afraid of strangers yet?” I like it. Children
go through periods of being fearful of strangers. It’s part of the
developmental process. Are your children “strange” these days?
is coming to your house for Christmas? Or who is going to be at your
parents, or in-laws, or wherever you’ll be gathering? Will there be
strangers? Yep. They might even be named Grandma and Grandpa, or Aunt
Laurie, or Uncle Greg. These people, whom you have loved and known all
your life, may be strangers to your child. This point was driven home
at my recent visit with my family. My niece said to one of my
daughters, “I’ve only seen you like five times in my whole life.” Now,
that’s not an exact count, but several of those visits WERE when she was
too small to remember!
these “strangers” can create a lot of stress for your child. Of course
it’s more stressful for some children than others, but regardless of
their personalities, it can take a lot of energy to deal with all these
people. They may also resent that you are holding some strange baby
cousin or that you are deep in conversation with some strange woman (like your
sister), and not paying them sufficient attention. Stress then brings
out the worst in your child - whining, clinging, melting down. . . and
you are embarrassed.
you take your children to church, the neighborhood pool, or your
company Christmas party, you are very aware that all these people around
you are strangers, and you monitor your child closely. Do the same with
your loved ones, and your child will feel a lot more secure, and warm
up to the relatives faster. It’s very hard to think of our families of
origin as strangers to our children but, in reality, that may be what
they are, especially if we don’t live close enough to come together
regularly. Keep all this in mind and you can successfully introduce your past and present families to each other, even if a few smelly shepherds or kings on
camels show up.