BRISTOL, Tenn. (BP) — Through tear-filled eyes the young mother stares forlornly at the sterile hospital walls. It’s Christmas Day and she should be celebrating with her family.
Instead, she’s 50 miles from home in the hospital.
She is alone, having insisted that her husband spend Christmas at home with their 3-year-old and 15-month-old without her and the new baby.
Two days earlier, on Dec. 23, 1976, I had driven Sammie to the doctor’s office for her check-up. When he discovered that her water had already broken he had her escorted across the street to the maternity ward.
That afternoon, she gave birth to our third daughter, Stacia Layne Playl, and on Christmas Eve her sisters and I gawked at our newborn through the nursery window.
When Christmas Day came the next day, Sammie felt pretty low. Sure, we wanted another child, but why couldn’t the baby have waited until Jan. 1 to be born? Two calendar years apart sounded better, even though Stacia and Shannon would still have been 15 months apart. Maybe she could have been the first baby of 1977. We definitely could have used the free diapers, formula and a candlelight dinner or whatever you get for having the first baby of the New Year.
But to be alone in the hospital on Christmas Day, it just didn’t seem fair.
Then it happened. A nurse came into the room carrying a big, red Christmas stocking with Stacia in it. Sammie’s heart melted and suddenly it was her best Christmas ever. The tears were still in her eyes and ran down her cheeks. But now they were tears of joy.
What better way to celebrate the birth of Jesus than to sing carols to an infant. And that’s what Sammie did. She held her baby girl, wrapped in red flannel and sang, and told her how God had sent His Son, hundreds of years ago to be our Savior. She told Stacia how blessed she was to be born in a clean hospital, instead of a barn, laid in a spotless bassinet instead of a feeding trough. She told her how much God loved her and how much her family would love her.
It was in these moments that Sammie experienced real peace on earth.