Monday, December 24, 2018
Juan I. Guerra
“I’m going to be a SISSSSTER!” 5-year-old Rose joyfully exclaimed. It was 2 a.m. on a cold Christmas morning a few winters ago, at our former home in suburban Philadelphia.
Months earlier, my wife and I had met a young family at our children’s school, Jim and Sarah, and their daughter, Rose. Rose was a bright-eyed, happy 5-year-old with boundless energy. Sarah was very pregnant with her second child.
Over the weeks that followed, my wife, Mary Kate, and I hosted a Visitation for the young couple. During these events, families gather, pray a rosary for the parents, and offer baby gifts. Taking the example of Mary’s visit to Elizabeth, families give love and support to the expectant couple asking God’s blessing upon them and their baby.
Being relatively new in their Catholic community, Jim and Sarah shared that when delivery time came, they were planning to bring their active daughter with them to the hospital. As veteran parents of four children, we felt we had to help. “No matter what day or hour, when the time comes, please bring Rose to our home,” we said. “We will take good care of her.” We knew our four daughters would also offer their support.
The weeks passed with no news. On Christmas Eve we attended our customary Noche Buena Christmas dinner. We had a long meal with family, Christmas caroling and celebration, and drove home late that night. After seeing the children to bed, Mary Kate and I put out the gifts and crashed into bed, looking forward to a restful night before the big day.
Just as we were getting to sleep, the phone rang. It was Jim. “Sarah’s going into labor! Can we drop Rose off?” With little time to prepare, they were soon outside in our driveway.
Rose’s initial joy at the coming of her sibling started to change as she saw her parents leave for the hospital. Soon came tears, as she exclaimed that it was Christmas and she wasn’t home with her parents. Mary Kate put her to bed, turned down the lights and told her story after story, but Rose found little comfort. Finally, my wife noticed a bright shining star outside the bedroom window. “That is the Star of Bethlehem,” she exclaimed. Rose’s eyes lit up. As Mary Kate retold the Christmas narrative, eventually the tiny child drifted off to sleep.
“It’s Christmaaaas!” exclaimed Rose. Looking at the bedside clock, we saw it was 6 a.m. As we wearily woke up our daughters with the news, the phone rang. It was Jim. “We had a son and we are calling him Joseph,” he said proudly. Little Rose couldn’t contain her joy as she realized that she had a new brother on Christmas day. After breakfast and gifts (we had some extras), Jim arrived to take Rose to meet her brand new baby brother and celebrate their Christmas as a family.
A month later, Mary Kate and I were blessed to be chosen as Joseph’s godparents.
Now living in Miami, that Christmas remains one of the most memorable for us. Through the eyes of a child, and the shining of a star, we were reminded of that glorious event 2,000 years ago: “For unto us a Child is born, a Son is given!”