Merry Christmas.

Nativity scene 2014

I wonder what Christmas would be like if we stripped everything else away. I wonder what Christmas would be like if where were no presents that needed to be bought, wrapped, or given out; if there were no holiday parties and no Christmas cookies, no Christmas lights or extravagant traditions. I wonder what Christmas would be like without the full stockings on Christmas morning or the presents under the tree, waiting until December 25 to be unwrapped. I wonder what Christmas would be like if there were just one light, shining in the darkness, onto the manger scene.

This Christmas season has been the simplest one we’ve had together as a family. I don’t even think we’ve been to one holiday party this year. Our gifts were mostly for Noah, mostly keepsake items and things that we would have bought for him anyway in the coming months. Honestly, though, I can’t do without traditions. I’m not a stickler

we’ve passed on seeing

It’s a Wonderful Life

 at the Lido Theater this year because I’m not about to smuggle a newborn into the movies. There was no fancy Christmas brunch, no cinnamon rolls or mimosas. For dinner, we had soup. But there were Minted cards, a glittery, shimmering tree, monogrammed stockings,

Silent Night

 by candlelight.

Most of all, I can’t do without tradition of advent, or without worship on Christmas Eve and Christmas morning, and interspersed throughout the season, in those quiet moments as we sip hot cocoa or candy cane green tea. Sharing those moments with my husband and my baby boy have been the most beautiful part of this season for me.

There is nothing like the joy and anticipation of Christmas morning, being woken up by a precious baby who you can’t believe is your own. There is no celebration like the celebration of gifts given to and from loved ones or the meditation of preparing meals from scratch, breaking bread and sipping wine. I will always hold onto the meditative tradition of singing

Silent Night

 by candlelight, our faces lit up by a warm, tiny flame as we sing.

I love traditions for their groundedness, their familiarity, the repetition. Traditions anchor my soul and prepare my heart. They’re a respite from the heartbreak and the violence. They are stepping stones leading to the manger scene, solid and illuminated

. Merry Christmas.