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Monday, December 19, 2011

'Twas the Week Before Christmas?

by Dina L. Sleiman

’Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house…no wait. Try that again. It was actually one week before Christmas, and I had dressed up in my fancy burgundy maternity dress with the gold buttons for our church’s annual Christmas dinner. When I arrived, what to my wondering eyes would appear, but the discovery that a friend, Cindy Lowry, had brought her one month old baby here.

Stephanie was perfect.

Studying the her tiny little features, I sighed. “I want my baby in time for Christmas.” But my baby wasn’t due until January 11th. Although I still felt spry and healthy, a right jolly old elf, I just couldn’t bear it in spite of myself. It would be my first Christmas without family. I couldn’t make the trip to Pittsburgh so close to my due date, and my parents would wait to travel down and see the baby in a few weeks.

Baby Christi, 1994
The thought of Christmas without family was almost more than I could handle. During my entire childhood, Christmas had been spent surrounded by grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. Stockings hung by the chimney with care in hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there. Christmas cookies and carrots for the reindeer. The traditional “steps” picture in our pajamas as my dad tormented us, taking fifteen minutes to find the batteries for the camera and make his coffee before letting us loose on the family room where the tree sat and presents awaited.

But what about this Christmas? How could a Christmas brunch at the home of my small group leader possibly suffice? Who would squeal and giggle with delight as we opened the gifts, eyes twinkling, dimples merry over even the smallest toys?

“I want my baby in time for Christmas,” I said to the tiny Stephanie Lowry in her newborn size satin Christmas dress, swaddled in a blanket. And I meant every word.

Dani, Dina, and Christi
That night I nestled all snug in my bed while visions of baby girls danced in my head. My daughter was all I wanted for Christmas that year. Being the obliging and sociable sort of child that she is, she cooperated. In the wee hours of the morning, I discovered my water had broken. By five AM, my contractions were steady and a few minutes apart. With my bags packed and ready to go, I woke my husband and told the shocked young man that it was time to leave, and away to the hospital we flew.

Christiana Rose Sleiman was born on December 19th 1994, three weeks early, a healthy 6 lbs 9 oz, and just in time for Christmas.

Christmas Eve we took her to church. It was all so sudden that it took a few minutes for us to convince everyone that she was ours. Christmas morning, my husband and I played with Christi like a toy. We took dozens of pictures. We opened presents for her while she while she drooled and cooed. Her little mouth drawn up like a bow. And we went to that Christmas brunch where our good friends the Lowry’s were in attendance. Christi and Stephanie spent their first Christmas together, although I think they were more interested in nursing than with each other at that point.
Christi in a stocking :)
My parents and sister showed up the next day with a bound, and the festivities continued all around.

Christi and Stephanie remained the best of friends until the Lowry’s moved away six years later. In fact, Cindy and I planned to have our second children at the same time, and Jonny and Jessica, quite a trouble-making little duo, became inseparable as well.

1994 was my best Christmas ever. Christi is still my favorite present I’ve ever received. And I credit Stephanie Lowry for being so darn cute. So I suppose all that’s left to say is…Merry Christmas to all, and to all a goodnight!

What was your best Christmas present ever?

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Dina Sleiman writes lyrical stories that dance with light. Most of the time you will find this Virginia Beach resident reading, biking, dancing, or hanging out with her husband and three children, preferably at the oceanfront. Since finishing her Professional Writing MA in 1994, she has enjoyed many opportunities to teach literature, writing, and the arts. She was the Overall Winner in the 2009 Touched by Love contest for unpublished authors. Her first novel, Dance of the Dandelion with Whitefire Publishing has just released. She has recently become an acquisitions editor for WhiteFire as well. Join her as she discovers the unforced rhythms of grace. For more info visit her at http://dinasleiman.com/
 

15 comments:

  1. Wonderful memories, Dina. And I love the way you told it.

    I had a similar story in that Crystal was due on Feb 2nd, but was born on Dec 2nd instead. I cried for 2 wks straight because she needed to stay in NICU and I was at home with a Christmas tree and empty crib. Back then in the late 70's, the NICU staff didn't encourage visiting like they do today. There was no bonding with a baby in an incubator and many of my visits included standing in the hallway outside the NICU window and watching my baby from afar.

    Like you though, Dina, I brought Crystal home a week before Christmas and spent most of my time cuddling her. I remember holding her up to the tree and pointing out the lights thinking they would catch her eye. Nope. She barely looked at them, sleepy as she was, but I knew it would be different the next year.

    Thanks for reminding me of that first Christmas with her. :)

    Anita.

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  2. That is my favorite Christmas gift too. I forgot that I had that much hair when we had Christi. What happened to it?
    Very cute post.

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  3. Anita, I was afraid for a minute there that I brought up sad memories. Glad your Christmas story ended happily too.

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  4. Dani, I thought the same thing. LOL.

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  5. My favorite Christmas present was my son. We had a giant tree that year, and I also remember showing him the lights. Sweet post, Dina!

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  6. Thanks, Suzie. I don't think Christi even looked at the lights. LOL. Being slightly premature, she slept most of the time until after New Years. Her eyes didn't seem to focus for the first few weeks.

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  7. I feel left out now, not having a Christmas baby!

    But then again, I have clear memories of a snowy December morning and an OTC early pregnancy test, just a few days before Christmas. Our daughter was born at the end of a long, hot August.

    But what a special Christmas you that must have been!

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  8. So, Barb got good news for Christmas. I think that counts :)

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  9. Cute post. I love the pictures! Greatest Christmas present, that's for sure.

    My heart breaks for Anita...I can't imagine having to watch my baby through a window. What a blessing that she could come home soon and get lots of snuggles from her mommy and daddy.

    I have fond memories of my pregnant Christmases. Kid #1 was quite active and responded to the music at the Christmas Eve service. Kid #2 was too small for me to feel his kicks, but my morning sickness finally ebbed. I had a great maternity dress, too--cranberry velvet. I still have it because it was my favorite.

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  10. I think my first pregnancy was the funnest, Susie, because everything was new and exciting.

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  11. Hmm, I wonder if I'm my mom's best Christmas present. LOL

    I wrote about my favorite gift alst year for Christianbook.com. One year, when I was quite small, my mom made us Barbie clothes. Acres of them. she sewed on all those teensy buttons and snaps, rolled and stitche miniscule hems and seams. If she'd bought them, I might have gotten maybe one or two outfits. Instead I got waht seems like dozens. It was probably a dozen, though. I had the best-dressed Barbie on the block.

    BTW, I wasn't really into Barbie, but I loved the clothes and setting up the house. Then I'd pose her and go away.

    Since I was the Christmastime baby, I'll share that my best birthday present was a poem my DH wrote for me our first birthday/Christmas together.

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  12. Those are sweet presents, Laurie Alice. And that's how I played barbies too.

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  13. No Christmas babies but my daughter got engaged at Christmas. I enjoyed the post and comments and the photos are sweet! I saw the preview on FB

    My favorite present was probably my typewriter which came with a Teach yourself to Type manual. And I did. Not very sentimental but I loved that thing in its cool carry case.

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  14. Awww. What a sweet post, Dina. My oldest, was born on December 19th 2003. He is definitely the best Christmas present I ever received.

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