Four years ago today one of the most amazing people God ever created came into my life - it was the day my niece Phoebe was born.
Being an aunt is my greatest job, I'm sure only to be topped (hopefully) by one day being able to mother a child of my own. My niece and nephew are some of the clearest beacons of truth that I have seen in this world. There is no happiness as pure as the happiness of child. There is no quest for knowledge like that of an inquisitive child exploring the world for a first time. There are no hugs as heartwarming then snuggling up with a child as they fall asleep in your arms.
I'll never forget that night waiting at Lakewood Hospital in Ohio, sitting with my dad outside in the waiting room as my mother and brother-in-law stayed with my sister as she struggled through a challenging labor. I remember everything about how that night turned into day, and ultimately afternoon - from the book I read, to the letter I wrote a future-Phoebe, to the person who sold me one-too-many cups of coffee. But what I remember most of all was that first moment she was placed within my arms, her little curled fists poking out of her blanket, the squished post-delivery look on her face. It was at that moment that I fully understood what God's unconditional love for us was like, because I knew then that I would never stop loving this beautiful miracle that laid within my arms.
For many people Christmastime is about celebrating the joy that comes from recognizing that God loves our humanity so much as to live in human form. While I celebrate that joy, for me the added reason to celebrate the season is in thanksgiving that God continues to love us so much as to bless us with the joy of rediscovering our humanity through the lives of our children, and our children's children, and the children of our loved ones.
I am so grateful that my God has allowed me the blessing to have a loving relationship with my niece and nephew. Their presence in my life has been a gift greater then I ever could have imagined, and with every lit candle on the cake I rejoice that when I sing "Happy Birthday" to them, I am also celebrating that their birthdays are happy days for me, too.
(Happy Birthday, Phoebe. Much love - Aunt Tina)