Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Christmas and a Baby


Now that my older sister and I are both married with families of our own, it's not always easy to get my entire immediate family together for holidays. However, my siblings, parents, and Michael and I all made plans several months ago to gather in Boston for Christmas this year. I know that those plans sound a bit random when you think about the fact that I'm a Hoosier (and both my parents still live in Indiana), but my sis and her family live in Cambridge and were expecting their third child on - wait for it - December 27th! As if Christmas weren't enough of a reason to get together and celebrate with family, a "Christmas baby" would be making his big debut (which ensured zero chance of my sis and her husband traveling anywhere else) naturally we all traveled to see them.

My sis and her husband managed to snag apartment sublets in their complex for all of us (because they happen to live in campus family housing - and since classes aren't in session most people leave over Christmas break). I know that the idea of hosting everyone that far along in the pregnancy probably seemed more than a bit overwhelming for my sister, but she put those "nesting" instincts to good use and acquired ALL the food and planned the meal menus for the entire break before people began arriving (yes, she is a rock star)

Amazingly enough, Michael's project in Pennsylvania came to a close and he accepted a new position just down the road from Cambridge about two weeks before Christmas. Less than ten days later (5 days before Christmas, to be exact) we found ourselves moving to Massachusetts, which meant not only would we be around for Christmas and our nephew's birth, but we had our own place to stay and could alleviate at least a tiny bit of the pressure of hosting everybody by helping out in a greater capacity than we could have if we had only been in town for the originally planned 4 or 5 days.

Plus, my sister no longer had to worry about scheduling our nephew's baptism for the coming weeks because Michael and I are his Godparents and...we live here now (how convenient)! No matter what date they chose it was basically a guarantee we'd be around. :)

Long story short, the last days leading up to Christmas were spent unpacking and setting up our new home, spending time with family, and eagerly looking forward to our nephew's impending arrival.

On Christmas Eve my family gathered for dinner at my sister's place in Cambridge before setting out for a vigil mass at St. Paul's in Harvard Square. By the grace of God we somehow found ourselves in a section of pews that positioned us right next to their infamous boys' choir during the beginning and closing processionals when they paused to sing alongside us. The mass was long (and beautiful!), but all the kids (Gabriel and his cousins) did really well and my sister managed to hide the fact that - apparently - she was starting to have contractions.

I bet you know where this is going....

Late that Christmas Eve night, just as I was climbing into bed, my mom (who was staying with my sis to help watch the children whenever Christina went into labor) texted me. Christina was going to the hospital!

We had no idea if she would get sent away or admitted, but I turned up the volume on my phone and anxiously tried to get some sleep.

Remember how difficult it was to fall asleep on Christmas Eve as a child? Well, once you're all grown up the potential birth of a baby gives you that same kind of joyful anticipation and excited sense of wonder about what's to happen throughout the night/what could be waiting for you in the morning!

I could barely sleep and kept having dreams about my nephew being born. Then, as we were getting ready to head over for the Christmas morning gift exchange with my family, I got a text from my brother-in-law: baby Isaac had arrived!

And just like that, the "Christmas baby" lived up to the nickname.

Meeting baby Isaac on Christmas day!
Seriously. What's better than the image of your husband holding
a newborn baby?

Prior to my nephew's birth, I had this preconceived notion that delivering a baby on Christmas Day would be kind of miserable (and I'm sure my sister has many thoughts to share about the entire experience), but I can tell you now that Christmas 2014 will go down in my family's history as one of the happiest Christmases - all because of Isaac's birth.

I cannot think of a more tangible way to experience the end of Advent's time of preparation and anticipation or the joyful start of the long-awaited Christmas season than with the birth of a child. After all, what more appropriate or precious Christmas gift could God possibly bless us with than that of meeting a long-awaited newborn baby? Any sadness my nieces may have felt about not having their mommy there to open presents with them on Christmas morning is most definitely long forgotten - but the birth of their baby brother and getting to meet him for the first time is something they will never forget.

I hope all of you had equally happy Christmases filled with joyful memories made with your own loved ones!

"God never gives someone a gift they are not capable of receiving. If he gives us the gift of Christmas, it is because we all have the ability to understand and receive it."
-Pope Francis


  1. Rereading this more than a year later. I'm so happy you captured this memory so beautifully!!! Thank you!!!