Unless you are Catholic, you probably haven't given Mary much credit. Because I grew up in a faith group that doesn't typically celebrate Christmas as a religious holiday, it wasn't until I became a mother that the story of Jesus' parents really began to mean something to me.
What was it like to be Mary? She held a wrinkled newborn baby in her arms - one that was not conceived by any man, but was somehow perfectly human. Jesus had the same messy birth that we all did. His bed was a simple feeding trough. What did it do to Mary to put her newborn son into that old manger? What was it like to hold that baby in her arms, knowing his origins were unlike any other baby's, knowing that his destiny would be something great? When she marveled over his tiny hands, could she have possibly imagined that the day would come when nails would pierce them? Could she have understood then that she would live to see her son die? That the baby she suckled at her breast would one day turn away the vinegar offered to him on a splintered cross?
The day he died, did she go back to that quiet night in the cave when he first came into this world? Did her heart ache to go back to those days as something more peaceful, even though they were on the run from Herod? I think we forget that when God sacrificed his son, it meant Mary had to sacrifice him, too. What mother could bear to see her child suffer the agony that our Lord did?
Mary witnessed the most tender moment in history - his birth. She was there to see the most heart-wrenching moment - his death. When the angel came to her to bring the news of her impending pregnancy, she was willing to do God's will. The day the tomb was found empty, God's amazing plan was complete. Was she there to see him ascend back into heaven? This amazing woman - barely a teenager, with an unremarkable background - became the mother of a King. Let us not forget her part of the story.