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By Staff | Dec 25, 2015

My wife and I have a Christmas baby.

Well, he isn’t exactly a baby anymore. He is 34 years old now and towers over his mother and me. But he’s still our Christmas baby.

He began his journey to us nearly a year before he was born, when my wife and I became engaged during Yuletide.

I had just started dairy farming and had become enamored with a certain city girl who had a gentle spirit and a heart-meltingly sweet smile.

She cried when she saw the diamond ring I had bought for her. To my great relief, her tears meant yes.

When we began to plan our exchange of vows, my instincts told me that it should take place on the Vernal Equinox.

The first day of spring is a time of new beginnings, when earth revitalizes itself. I like to believe that by choosing this day, I was tapping into some age-old wisdom passed down through countless generations of my farmer forefathers.

At Midsummer’s Day, my bride whispered to me a wondrous secret: she was with child. My heart nearly burst with happiness.

As a dairy farmer, I’d witnessed innumerable pregnancies and births.

The sight of an expectant mother evokes thoughts of how life is constantly reaffirming itself, the burgeoning promise of a better tomorrow, and the deep, unspeakable bond between mother and offspring.

All these things I now saw in my new bride and I finally understood the full meaning of the words “the two shall be as one.”

Sometimes as my wife slept, I would rest a hand on her undulating belly and wonder what the future might hold for this child.

Would I be a good father? Would I be able to provide for its needs and answer its many questions? Yet in the midst of all these nocturnal worries, I never failed to be awestruck by the marvel of it all.

The year grew old and the Winter Solstice arrived. My wife and I attended a Christmas Eve celebration at my grandparents’ home, her tummy now so large that it had its own presence.

We went home early. She woke me shortly after I had fallen asleep to tell me in a cool, calm voice that it was time.

“Time for what?” my sleep-addled brain wondered. Time for … Omigosh.

I violated several speed laws on our way to the hospital. And early the next morning, as the distant orange sun peeked over the horizon, we became Mom and Dad.

He was perfect. Pink, chubby, 10 fingers and toes. Perfect.

As I held our newborn son for the first time, a sea of emotions washed over me. I felt pride and anxiety, but above it all was unbounded joy.

He yawned for the very first time, a moment so precious that his mother cried. We named him Paul, which means “devoted to the Lord.”

Soon after we took Paul home, we presented him to his great-grandmothers. We wanted to introduce them, but also hoped that they might impart some grandmotherly child-rearing wisdom.

I placed Paul in the arms of Grandma Hammer. She caressed his soft, pink skin, then put him to her shoulder and inhaled that sweet newborn aroma.

“It’s good luck to have a Christmas baby,” she murmured.

A few days later, I laid Paul on Grandma Nelson’s lap. Grandma’s mind was locked in a fog of Alzheimer’s, but when she looked down upon the cooing infant, the haze lifted and she smiled.

She cradled Paul in her arms as she had so many other babies.

“Oh, say,” she exclaimed. “A Christmas baby. How special.” We hadn’t mentioned his birth date.

As Paul grew, we told him the story of his birth and how he came to us at a special time of the year. He quickly assumed the role of Guardian of the Spirit of Christmas at our house.

At Christmastime he was St. Nick’s finest helper. Paul took charge of housecleaning, hauled the decorations from storage and filled our home with Christmas tunes that he played on our old upright piano.

He couldn’t wait to put up the colorful Christmas lights and was reluctant to take them down after New Year’s.

When he reached an age where many boys become cynical about Christmas, he retained his child-like enthusiasm for the holiday and saw to it that our home reflected its true spirit.

It seems as though these past 34 years have been but a twinkling. Our Christmas baby has grown into a fine young man and has created a life of his own.

But when Paul comes home for the holidays, my wife and I will retell the story of that midwinter day when we were blessed with a Christmas baby.

Nelson is a freelance writer from Volga, S.D. Reach him by e-mail at jjpcnels@itctel.com.

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