I rise early, tiptoe from the bed. His shoulders rise, momentarily aware of my absence before falling back into the sheets. The living room is quiet, except for the sounds I make as I prepare the morning’s coffee. White lights shimmer on the tree.

This house is still. It is Christmas morning, but the smalls will not come tumbling into the room. For a moment I see their faces – all glimmery eyes and sweet, unabashed joy. I miss them, but for now my mind’s eye is enough.

There have been so many similar mornings, but they have never been this one. This year my husband lies sleeping in our bed. Soon he will rise, too. We will share coffee while it is still dark and miss the smalls together. We will share our awe that Christ came to us as a baby, that shepherds were among the first chosen to visit this King.

There will be laughter, and this house will feel blessed.

For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

(Isaiah 9:6)