This week has been a beautiful week of Christmas celebration.
We’ve visited with family and friends who we haven’t seen in awhile, consumed abundant amounts of candy-coated confections and well-buttered bread — and certainly, at the end of it all, our wine won’t be the only thing that’s “full-bodied.”
We watched a storm roll in while wearing wrinkled, warm pajamas on Christmas morning — and then spent most of the day without power, opening presents in the soft shadows of natural light that flooded in through my in laws’ livingroom window.
Due to the power outage, the Christmas turkey didn’t have time to cook — but Granddad found one restaurant that was still open on Christmas day. Thanks to Luby’s Cafeteria, we enjoyed delicious, crispy fried chicken along with our sides and salads.
We met with good friends last night and laughed about how our dinner conversations have changed over the years. Topics ranged from having babies to fertility charting to parenthood to aging — and I found myself, for the first time in a long time, relaying Kate’s birth story to a friend who hadn’t heard it before.
“So how did you find out she had Down syndrome?” he asked. I recounted the details.
I blog about Kate having Down syndrome frequently on this blog — and if a blog was the true measure of the entirety of what one focuses on, it would seem that the subject is fairly dominant in our lives. But to be honest (or “tbh” as the teenagers on Facebook say), we don’t think much about it on a daily basis — so it’s always a privilege to share the story. And also, it’s a good perspective-check that to most people it is a big deal.
A super scary deal.
After I told my friend the story of our journey, he said to me, “I think you had Kate so that you could tell other people about it.” I think I had Kate for a lot of reasons — but his conclusion was simple and beautiful.
Because that’s what we humans do — we tell our stories. And we write these little blogs or give talks or just sit with friends over wine at dinner and we share words that encourage each other.
A friend sent me a link to this beautiful article today with the simple intro, “Thought you’d like this.”
I did like it. And I’m glad the writer shared his story.
Here’s an excerpt where the writer speaks of his two children, both adopted:
Our daughter is beautiful. She was born with a shock of black hair and wonderfully expressive eyes. Her beauty is a lasting tribute to the couple who conceived her, and who chose life for her. Our daughter, like our son, was born with trisomy 21—Down syndrome. Since my daughter’s birth, I’ve thought a lot about the thousands of children aborted each year because they share the genetic defect my children have. Statistics tell a sobering story. Children like mine are being culled from our species. They’re quietly going extinct.
Most families of people with Down syndrome will tell you similar stories. Our children develop differently. They see the world differently. But they have access to same range of human emotions and experiences that the rest of us enjoy. They’re capable of experiencing the joy of a life lived fully. People with Down syndrome, or similar intellectual or developmental disabilities, have the same potential we all have—most importantly, they have the capacity for union with God.
Cultural ignorance of this fact hit home for me just the other day. My daughter has some medical complications, and she’s still living in the hospital. I’ve been staying with her. A few days ago, I stopped in the hospital’s chapel and, before I knew it, I was weeping. I was weeping for the children who’ve been on my mind, the ones who fail genetic tests, and are aborted out of a misguided sense of compassion by a culture that has lost its conscience.
A well-meaning hospital chaplain, with whom I’ve struck up a friendship, sat down beside me and tried to offer me some comfort. He assumed I was weeping for my own children, so he reminded me that today people with Down syndrome go to college, work, and live independently. “Kids like yours,” my new friend said, “can still lead useful and happy lives.”
I didn’t explain to him why I was upset. But I’ve thought a lot about his words of comfort. If I had been struggling in the way that he thought, they wouldn’t have done me much good. We’re in a sad state of affairs if the best argument we can make about human potential is that nearly anyone can spend four years paying for classes.
Christians should have more to offer than the material. Our hope should be in something greater.
Because of Christmas, my children—all children—have a lot more to look forward to than university. Because of Christmas, our hope is that we can share in God’s own life.
Every Christmas Eve, we read the Christmas Story as told by Luke. It is the story of the baby who gives infinite hope for all our babies — it is the ultimate story that makes all of our stories worth telling.