I’ve written before at length about our long experience with childlessness. I know from personal experience that for many couples dealing with infertility, holidays can be tough. Mother’s Day and Father’s Day most readily come to mind. But Christmas would also rank very high on that list. For the couple without children, Christmas can present some difficult and heartbreaking situations.
A Child-Centered Holiday
The entire holiday of Christmas revolves around the birth of a baby and his parents. Every carol speaks of a baby. We reflect on Mary and Joseph, the parents, and their roles in the birth.
Activities and celebrations are usually centered on family, especially children. The children’s Christmas program at church is often one of the highlights of the season. Families gather at church on Christmas Eve, bringing along their little ones brimming with excitement. It is easy for the childless couple sitting there in the pew to feel like outsiders in almost every sense of the word.
An Unwelcome Calendar Milestone
Christmas is also such a regular milestone in the calendar of our lives that it often a reminder that another year has passed and there is still no baby in the nursery. Dealing with childlessness can be easier during the regular daily living of the rest of year. But when Christmas comes around again, it is almost impossible to ignore that another entire year has passed with a dream still unfulfilled.
So how can people best minister to a childless couple during the Christmas season?
Ask What They Need
The most obvious place to start is oftentimes the most overlooked. If you know the couple well enough, ask them what they need.
- Do they need privacy?
- Do they need busyness to distract them from their heartache?
- Do they need a “normal” Christmas celebration like everyone else?
- Do they need to go out of town?
- Do they need to spend time with their nieces and nephews?
- Do they need a shoulder to cry on?
Only the couple will know what they need during the Christmas season and that need could change from year to year. What might have been a blessing last year could be a burden this year.
If you think even asking the question might be painful, send a handwritten note, expressing your desire to love them during this time of the year and asking how you can best minister to them.
Involve Childless Couples in Church Celebrations
It is natural to focus on the children during Christmas. Their joy and anticipation is everywhere! But those without children have just as much to offer in the celebration of Christ’s birth as the families.
There are many ways to involve them in the celebrations. Again, ask them how they would like to be involved. This could include:
- Doing an Advent reading
- Being a narrator in the Christmas program
- Organizing a caroling party for the shut-ins
- Organizing a food drive for the needy
- Decorating the church
Pray, Pray, Pray
Pray for the couple. All believers are in need of prayer and this is especially true for the childless couple at Christmas. Ways to pray for them include:
- That God would sustain them and give them emotional and physical strength
- That they would find joy in Christmas celebrations
- That the peace of God that transcends all understanding would guard their heart and mind in Christ Jesus
- That the Holy Spirit would move others around them to bless them and encourage them
- For God to grant them the desire of their heart and give them a child
Never underestimate the importance of the ways you choose to love and bless your infertile brothers and sisters in Christ as they continue their journey this year. Your thoughtfulness and kindness may make a tremendous difference in their Christmas celebration.