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The Great Mothers of Christmas

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Posted 05-08-2011 at 08:25 AM by Jeff Westover

Mother's Day should be a big milestone in the countdown to Christmas. After all, what would the story of Christmas be without mothers? In all of Christmas history -- both fact and fiction -- Christmas just wouldn't be Christmas without them.

Who could deny Mary, the mother of the Christ, her place? Chosen amongst women she had a front row seat for the whole ministry of the Savior. Can her influence be doubted? And could the love of her Son have been more tender?

Mary has always had a special place in my heart because of her humanity.

She enters the story not as a woman but as a girl -- a chosen individual called to a sacred purpose. She had to know she would face heartbreak and trial in accepting that role.

Mentoring her was the wise Elizabeth, a study of pure joy not only at the calling of Mary and the One she carried but also at the blessing of her own Motherhood. Here she was a barren woman, denied children until visited by an angel. Unlike her husband, she did not doubt -- but only rejoiced.

Only the heart of a mother beats so. She was no doubt an inspiration to Mary, as she remains so to us.

Like many mothers, Mary endured a difficult delivery, perhaps the most famous in history.

And like all mothers she both worried and doted on her Child.

When Jesus was 12 he was left behind in Jerusalem as the large family party left town (Home Alone?) and Joseph and Mary had to go back for him, where they found him teaching in the Temple.

Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing.

Spoken as only a mother can speak.

Mary remained devote to Jesus until the very end. As he was dying his love for his mother was a model for all, seeing to her needs to the very end.

Christmas has many such role-model mothers.

Consider Marmee, of Little Women fame. Could there be a wiser woman?

To her daughters she said: "I am ambitious for you, but not to have you make a dash in the world - marry rich men merely because they are rich, or have splendid houses, which are not homes because love is wanting. Money is a needful and precious thing - and, when well used, a noble thing - but I never want you to think it is the first or only prize to strive for. I'd rather see you poor man's wives, if you were happy, beloved, contented, then queens on thrones, without self-respect and peace."

The focus of A Christmas Carol is, of course, Scrooge, but can even the small bit of information we receive about his mother be denied?

What was it, after all, that left Scrooge so bitter?

He was no less than a motherless child.

His mother died in childbirth with Ebeneezer, a cold reality that deeply affected Scrooge's father, who sent him away to boarding school while very young. The familial stresses are never resolved by Dickens and the influence on Scrooge by both his parents remains key to the development of his adult character.

Not that the story of A Christmas Carol is lacking in the role of a strong mother, though. Mrs. Cratchit gets little notice amongst most movie versions of the story (unless, of course, you count the Muppet's Christmas Carol where the role is embellished with flare by Miss Piggy). But Dickens penned an able partner for Bob Cratchit, one who was both independent and fiercely protective of her children.

The great mothers of Christmas are like mothers all over -- contentedly in the background, watching over the central characters of their lives, their children.

But we should celebrate them more. Their influence, even on the story of Christmas, is universal.

Mothers are the closest we come to God in the flesh. They have the power to create and nurture like nothing else before us. As men, we can build, we can muscle, we can provide. But we cannot create and without the influence of the women in our lives -- from mothers who give us life to sisters who provide us balance to wives who allow life from us to carry-on -- we are simply nothing.

Happy Mother's Day to all the Moms of My Merry Christmas. May you forever know how special you are in our hearts for the central part you play in our lives and in the history of Christmas.
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