February 16, 2008 § 2 Comments
When I found out I was pregnant, it was only natural that my due date be Christmas day. It was already a day I counted down to all year, my ears pricking up at the first ring of a jingle bell, the first “Big Holiday Sale!”. I am not at all bothered by the ever increasing hype of Christmas, the decorations appearing earlier each year, the all Christmas Radio Station starting on November 1st – these are bonus celebrations. They caannot deter me from the very intimate, family focused love I feel at Christmas, in my home, around the kitchen table, at church. I do not celebrate Christmas at Target, so I don’t care what they do with their decor – unless it’s on sale.
The day after Thanksgiving is a holiday unto itself in our house. Boxes and bags are dragged up from the storage closet, cookie recipies, some stained with a smear of butter or vanilla, or a touch of caked on flour are pinned up to the bulletin board in order of importance. I make lists at Christmas, just to mark the time. I make lists of gifts I’ll buy, gifts I want, who will get Christmas cards, which treats I’ll mail out to friends, and anything else I can think of.
But Christmas, as we know, is for the children. It always felt strange to decorate a two bedroom condo for two people and a chihuahua. There was no reason for me to wake in the dark morning of Christmas, always expecting some magic or miracle to appear in the next room. But I did it anyway, even at the age of 30, having slept in the guest room in my own childhood home. I stood at the top of the staircase and waited for my mother to say “Santa’s been here!”, because I wanted to cement it in my memory. I wanted to always have that phrase to bring me back to every Christmas of my life, the year I got a cabbage patch doll, the year I got my drafting table so I could become a world famous architect. I wanted to remember the first Christmas that I was married, the Christmas I came BACK to Rochester because I lived somewhere else. They all lived in that one phrase,and the sound of our feet stomping down the stairs, giggling and acting like six year olds. I don’t ever want to be without it. Even so, as we aged, it became less thrilling to empty our stockings filled with batteries, chocolate, stamps and a Crest Spinbrush. The gifts became more practical, the boxes thin, rectangular, and plainly wrapped.
Thank God for Charlotte. She was born four days early, arriving home from the hospital the day before Christmas Eve, her soft, plump skin golden with jaundice. We swaddled her in a therapeutic light blanket and she glowed like a fresh little space traveler observing human customs as we huddled in our tiny condo living room: grandparents, aunt Allison, laughing and munching on Chinese food and cookies. It was fifty degrees and raining outside, our tree wore only white lights and paper snowflakes, but we were all together, my heart overwhelmed with more emotions than I could recount here. I slept soundly, contentedly in my own bed for the first time in months, the bassinet emitting a soft green glow throughout the house. My home was filled with my family, with joy and never before seen thankfulness and celebration. We were all so excited to see the baby that we awoke in the dark on Christmas morning to see the magic, the miracle in the next room. I held her close to my chest and cried, so happy to be 34 and having the best Christmas morning ever.