These are two people from my tribe. They are crazily cute together, don't you think?
We planned our trip before we left; a stop-over at a well known brand name health store and a trip to Santa. Everything else would be a bonus if we had the stomach for those crazy pre-Christmas crowds.
Today was hectic in Stirling. The crowds; a mixture of bleary and wide eyed human beings in all shapes and sizes searching out last minute presents of bath sets, chocolates and perfume. Shoving, pushing and pawing ensued. It's easy (too easy?) to forget the real meaning of Christmas when you're swamped with a sea of human anxiety and desperation shoved into such a small space - with no allusions to anything remotely religious - and it's easy to get rushed and panicked along with the masses.
And today, something strange happened. I felt the anxiety with the crowds. It started off as a strange heat under my collar then a thump too much from my heart...we took sanctuary in our health food shop, where it was relatively empty and people-free, and I unravelled myself from my 'Narnia jacket' (a term coined by B) and it felt like peeling off layers of my anxiety. The truth is: I just don't like crowds. And this is why I am my mother's daughter.
Growing up with Edinburgh at my feet and then moving to London, I should be 'used' to the crowds, but I am not. The crowds thinned around mid-afternoon and my anxiety was dampened - I just felt thirsty and heavy eyed. I began to think of my Saviour, Jesus Christ, and it seemed odd that once the cloud of anxiety had passed that I began to think of Jesus. To think if it wasn't for his birth, we wouldn't celebrate Christmas. My birthday wouldn't be known as 'Christmas Eve', it would just be another day. And if Jesus hadn't been born, there would be no Redeemer. No great sacrifice.
In life we all go through sacrifices and it's made me reflect on my mum's sacrifice to me. Not only giving me a home inside her body for 9 months (unknown, no less!) but the biggest sacrifice was the danger and pain she put herself through to get me here - a Caesarian section without any kind of numbing or pain relief.
The story goes a little something like this: an epidural was given, she kept telling them she could still feel everything - and move - but they thought she was trying to put them off to wait for my dad to get to the hospital. Wrong again. They hadn't given her enough of the epidural. She was told to sit up and push - yes, push - because I was so high up (Roman followed in the same vein.) And she did it.
All of that, to give me life. So that I could celebrate my birth every year.
This birth story has been fed to me each year; piece by beautifully scary piece. Drip by drip, the lines of the story have played out, with an added detail here and there as I grew up and could understand the details more. I never really pieced together those details until I was in my 20s and asked my mum to tell me the full story, from start to finish. I had never known about the pushing and when I was a few weeks away from delivering Roman I discovered another fact: my mum went into spontaneous labour on that Christmas Eve morning in 1985. She felt the tightening and loosening of her body, the signal I had sent to her brain to tell her I was coming. I was ready to be born, despite her requiring a Cesarean. A few hours later, I was born, after a lot of drama. For someone who feels so awkward being centre stage, I think my entrance into the world was my first and last major drama.
We come into life not really knowing what's ahead of us; all the pain and joy in one big mixing pot, waiting to happen. But I know that for all the pain and all the suffering, all the sacrifice, the joy is a much bigger prize than the pain. I'm just so thankful to my mum for giving me the gift of life - and because of my birth and my being here on earth, I married Bryan and together we have Roman. That's a very big prize. And a very special 'present.'