“Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.” The poem, “A Visit from Saint Nicholas,” by Clement Clark Moore, is actually the source for quite a few of our popular holiday ideas. The narrator’s depictions of a chubby Saint Nick, the flying reindeer, and gifts delivered on Christmas Eve have become pop culture icons.
The man in the night cap even speculates on what the children dream on Christmas Eve. “The children were nestled all snug in their beds, while visions of sugar plums danced in their heads.” Perhaps children do dream a little of what treasures they hope to find underneath the tree, but I suspect people, both young and older, dream of things dearer to their hearts than sweets and toys or a jolly old elf in the weeks leading up to Christmas.
I will share my own dream from this very week, to illustrate. Due to illness, my own son has suffered serious setbacks in his educational pursuits and hopes for the future. I see many in his generation who have similar obstacles to overcome. Our current economy and social structure offers them little in the way of opportunity, but plenty in the way of social debts handed down from the generations before them. In order to work toward their own goals, they must take on educational loans so huge they find it impractical to begin families of their own before the age of 30. If illness or other misfortune comes their way, the odds against a hopeful future only increase. Hope deferred makes the heart sick, and today’s young adults have come of age in a time where hope is not only deferred, but but seems to have been misplaced altogether.
I dreamed our family went to a hospital. We all had appointments. Dr. Latif was the only doctor there. It seems he served as dentist, general practitioner, and surprisingly, obstetrician. In reality, I consider Dr. Latif “the best doctor on earth,” and credit his thorough and visionary approach to endocrinology with saving my son’s life physically, and in giving him hope for a brighter future.
In the dream, my husband had to get to work, and was not able to wait until the clinic opened, so Dr. Latif took care of him before the clinic actually opened. As I sat in the waiting room, I heard other people discussing a custom where parents would journey away from home, in the snow, and camp out with their children. They were waiting for travelers to come by. The travelers had a tradition of choosing children from among these camping families to play the role of “Santa Lucia” in their holiday observances.
Some of those listening remarked how foolish it was for parents to be so invested in their children playing such a role that they would camp out in order to allow their children to participate. They compared them to pushy beauty pageant moms and parents who continually take their children to auditions for roles in plays and movies. Some also compared them to people camping out by stores on Thanksgiving night in order to be the first in line for the Black Friday shopping frenzy.
Dr. Latif stepped into the room during this discussion and listened without judgment. He then turned to some families who thought the custom a good one and encouraged them, saying, “Perhaps your children will get to be Saint Lucy for someone.”
He beckoned my husband, Ted and I, to follow him to the delivery room! I had not previously considered why I was there, but apparently I was about to give birth. I remember Dr. Latif holding proudly holding the baby up, introducing him to the world. “He’s a healthy newborn!” He proclaimed over and over. The joy on his face was unmistakable and contagious. He was as happy as we were.
The baby and I were sent to a room to rest. Because my husband had to leave to go to work, my sister’s husband, Mike, came to fill in as the representative family “father figure,” I suppose. He had a look of fatherly pride on his face, and decided to give the baby a bath with lavender baby wash. When Dr. Latif walked by, I said, “Look! Uncle Mike is bathing the baby with lavender baby wash.” As busy as Dr. Latif is, I certainly did not expect more than a smile in passing, but he came over, lathered the baby’s tummy and hair, and said, “Ah! Lavender! It will help him relax and rest.” He wrapped the baby in a big towel to warm him and handed him back to us.
At one point, I needed to leave to take care of some business. I wrapped a scarf over my head and walked outside the clinic and down the steps. Dr. Latif came rushing outside, calling, “Don’t forget your baby!” I followed him back inside, where he took me to my son, wrapped him warmly, held him high and proclaimed, “He’s a healthy newborn!” He joyfully led a procession of nurses, office staff, visitors, and me back to the front door of the clinic, where he presented my son to me again, blessing us and wishing us well.
I awoke with tears in my eyes. The dream had a strong, emotional impact on me. I believe it is the most beautiful dream I’ve ever had. Over the hours and days that have followed, I have unwrapped its layers like a Christmas gift.
Please feel free to share your ideas with me, concerning the meaning of this dream. I will ponder them prayerfully.
Our family, both nuclear and extended, have suffered many wounds and needs all of the hope and rebirth I see portrayed in this dream. Remember us in your prayers in this blessed season of hope. We know that a Physician greater even than our dear Dr. Latif is in the business of redeeming our griefs and giving us new life.
May your dreams this Christmas season be healing and filled with hope as well!