It was 10pm Christmas night and I was sitting happily beside my husband on the couch watching the end of a crazy movie I'd only watch at Christmas and thinking how nice it would be to fall into my bed and sleep. We, and our two very tired little girls, had made it through Christmas. Four Christmases, to be exact. Three full days with extended family and then Christmas day with just the four of us. It had been wonderful, absolutely wonderful, but I'm really glad life's only that busy once a year!
And then I heard my youngest crying in her cot and went in to find she'd thrown up all over herself, the cot and the floor. With a yell to my husband, I took the child who was still working on emptying her stomach and hid out in the bathroom while my amazing husband cleaned up the room.
Far from my comfortable bed, I spent Christmas night lying on my daughter's floor beside the mattress we'd put out for her trying to get a few minutes’ sleep here and there between cleaning up and holding a very miserable toddler who spent all night throwing up.
Needless to say, it wasn't part of my Christmas plan.
Lying awake in those silent early hours of the morning gives you lots of time to think and far too much time to ponder and my thoughts turned to Mary the mother of Jesus.
Now, Maybe Jesus slept peacefully from birth like the Christmas cards depict but I have my doubts. He probably cried. A lot. He might not have fed properly, or been one of those vomity babies who brings up everything. Can't you just see Mary, exhausted from birth and getting to know a first baby, no help from the stench of animals around her, apologising awkwardly to a shepherd for her baby throwing up on the sheep? Or asking for some privacy while she attempted to figure out this whole feeding thing?
But even if Jesus did sleep and feed well - and liked his manger bed – I’m sure Mary never planned most of the things that happened that 'Christmas'. When she pictured holding her first child, I doubt she ever imagined it would be God's son. Or that she wouldn't be home with her mother when she gave birth. Or that a star and angels would announce his birth. Or they’d be visited by wisemen and hunted by a king. Or that people would still be talking about, revering, her two thousand years later.
One little bit of my Christmas might not have gone to plan (and, technically, Christmas was pretty much over anyway) but nothing about hers did. And yet... that was the plan. All along, that had always been God's plan. Prophesied from the beginning of time.
Why am I so quick to assume everything that goes 'wrong' in my life isn't part of the plan? What if it is? What if it’s been part of God’s plan all along, even if it was never part of mine?
The floor might have been a little uncomfortable that night, and I certainly didn’t get the restful night’s sleep I’d hoped for, but the company was great. As was the chance to show my cuddly little girl just how loved she is.
Because, plans going awry or not, love is what Christmas is all about. And that was always part of the plan.