There are a lot of things you hear at the start of the Christmas season, especially with so many small children. There is always the standard excitement. Oohs and aahs when the lights were hung. Happy cries of anticipation. Continue reading
As you are all aware, Christmas, and its entire season, has since passed. But, I had written little about our holiday experience, and still wanted to share. And so, like Rip Van Winkle, better to show up late than never.
This year, our Thanksgiving celebration was with my family. We had our normally large outdoor meal with most of my extended relatives. So I am talking about thirty adults and around forty children. In a phrase, it was more fun than a barrel of monkeys.
And speaking of barrels and monkeys… Continue reading
Halloween had come and passed. Our house was inundated with candy, and the bits of costumes Wife has not yet put away. We have had two bonks on heads with a bow, a good smack with a spear, one nasty headbutt that was fueled by too much candy, and one little boy who could not get the bow off his head. The Halloween celebration has come to a close, but the preparation started weeks ago. Continue reading
Mother’s Day has always seemed to sneak up on me. It’s not that I don’t care, I do… I really, really do. But I do get caught in the quicksand of everyday. Then, without knowing where it came from, BAM… Mother’s day. And there I am, caught flatfooted… again. Continue reading
Year after year, as long as I can remember, my large extended family has had an Easter Egg Hunt for all the children. Each household brings some colored eggs, the adults and older kids “help the Easter Bunny” hide all of them before the mothers and younger children come down. It is usually innocent enough, but there always seems to be someone who climbs a tree just to put a brightly painted egg in plain sight, completely out of reach. Continue reading
Today, on Easter, we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord. Because of Jesus, we are reminded of new life. While we are surrounded by butterflies, saplings, and eggs, I think a baby captures the image of new life better. Well, #9 is alive… and still really new. The other day Wife commented on how big he had grown. Our three month-old had outgrown the three-month-old clothes, and has to wear six-month-old clothes. He is growing faster than ivy up a brick wall. Soon he will start wrestling with his brothers, much to his mother’s annoyance. Continue reading
Alas, the Christmas decorations have finally come down. I know many people take them down the day after Christmas. Lots of Catholics try to leave their decorations up until the Epiphany. That is the day the Wise Men found Mary and Joseph, twelve days after the birth. While a few folks wait until just before the Fourth of July, it would seem that they feel that Christmas lights are unsuited for our nation’s birthday. The catalyst for our decoration cleanse came in the form of a one year-old.
#8, acting like a miniature Paul Bunyan, took it upon himself to topple our Christmas tree. Without an axe at hand, he laid his bare hand on it and pulled. Success, the tree had lost its balance and was on its ways down. Timber! Wait, no! With unanticipated horror, #8 realized it was falling in his direction. Before he could retreat, our little lumberjack found himself trapped by his own mischief.
Hearing the screams of #8, and the giggles of our daughters, Wife rushed into the front room to find her son lying underneath our over-decorated tree. He was squirming, screaming, and scratching his way out of his prickly prison. And when he saw his mother, his screams picked up in volume, his release was at hand.
In little time #8 had been extricated, and the Christmas decorations had been stowed away for the next year. It’s quite a change for me to leave the house in the morning covered in Christmas splendor, only to return to stacks of boxes, baskets, and bins waiting for me to store away.
Over forty-one weeks in the making, arriving twelve days late, with an overall weight of nine pounds and four ounces, our package finally made it home. #9 joined our clan. With his contribution, for the first time ever, the boys out number the girls. And after four girls in a row, that’s something I thought I would never say.
#9’s entrance into the world was without complications; however that is not to say it was without anxiety and a good deal of pain. He was due mid December, and Wife had all the symptoms of early labor. We were ready for his appearance at the end of November, but our boy had other ideas. Either he was very comfortable where he was, or he really didn’t want to face the world, in which case I can’t blame him. After several weeks of false labor, it continued to be false labor.
I’ve already written about how Wife had prepared for Christmas, so that when the baby came she would be able to recover without any worries about any of the Christmas details. About a week and a half before Christmas, she ran out of things to organize for the big day. Then she started to pace.
Have you ever seen a woman pace when she is over-due? She holds her belly with all the tender love and affection that makes a mother’s love incomparable. She strolls around with the comical waddle of a penguin. Her eyes dart back and forth seeking any mischief or mess-makers with the directness of a tiger. And the whole package has enough force to rival a typhoon.
At long last, after a full day of doubtful contractions, Wife’s mother made the call, she was definitely in labor. I met them at the hospital after work and thought that the twenty-third of December was a good night to have a baby. It was not quite as good as the twelfth, but it was better than the twenty-fourth. And so Wife labored into the night, until the twenty-fourth rolled around.
Yes you read right, a Christmas Eve baby. He was a great gift, but his timing was about the last thing I expected. I’ve often heard of Christmas babies, and always thought it was a bad date for a birthday. I would never do that to one of my children. I mean, what are the odds? But then my sister pointed out, “Well, the odds for your family are about one in nine.”
The wrapping was upon us. Need I say more? Ah, I see I do. Then let me explain. With all the attitude of a kingdom under assault, Wife barricaded herself in her bedroom and prepared. The scissors came out. The scotch tape came out. Finally, the Christmas paper came out. And woe to any child who attempted to enter her domain.
Gifts were laid out on the bed. She had to see them all set in rows to make sure of the proper value of each child, godchild, parent, grandparent, and an assortment of siblings. Like a merchant with his scales, she weighed each set of gifts, all the while making certain no one was under valued. If a discrepancy was found, I would receive a phone call that very moment, for here was where she and the merchant part ways.
A greedy merchant would pinch a little off of one to even the scales out, giving everyone involved a little less. Wife would hear none of that from me, for I am more the miser. She instead would add to whose ever pile was less, so I received her calls, kindly asking me to release the funds she wanted. As it was for Christmas, and for the children, I found it difficult to refuse her.
In past days she would have extended her gift piles across the entire bedroom floor. But the pregnancy stopped that this year. So her scales were confined to the bed, which made her weigh and wrap in batches, as our bed was too small to contain it all. It took her longer, but she was able to muscle through it.
In conclusion, Wife successfully had all the presents ready for Christmas well before the new baby was due to arrive. And there was only one true discomfort for me. After clearing all the wrapping off our bed, I was unable to find the scissors. For several nights after that I slept very gingerly.