Waiting for Christmas

By Rose Ann Sinay

Christmas is coming and I am so excited! My husband and I have two special granddaughters to celebrate our favorite holiday with us this year. It will be a while before we can bake snowman cookies together, but that is the prize – the privilege – I look forward to. I have come to realize that grandbabies are wonderful, fragile gifts – not automatic entitlements or expectations. As with most people, it never occurred to me, in our repeating pattern of life, that there could be a hitch, a kink or a question mark.

When our children were young, we reveled in the spirit of the holidays. We read stories, adorned the house with evergreens and red bows, gave time and gifts to the less fortunate and trudged through the local tree farm to find the biggest, most majestic tree to honor the day. Instead of after-dinner television, we made decorations. One “free” ornament (anything we wanted) and one flour and salt dough ornament to be baked, painted and preserved. Each creation was initialed and dated. Christmas was happy, memorable and predictable – a collection of modern day Norman Rockwell moments. Intellectually, I knew it wouldn’t last. Emotionally, I could not imagine a change in our family as we knew it.

Years rolled by like a powerful, yet silent, locomotive. We didn’t notice when the momentum slowed and then became a hollow chug. The kids had grown up. Our little family had moved in different directions – it soon was impossible to get together for the holidays. The tree that stood in the corner of our living room, decorated with a few of the baked dough ornaments, was a mere branch – a twig – in comparison to our magnificent blue firs of the past. It looked sad and lonely, as sad as we were. After a few years it was replaced with a scentless, pre-lit artificial tree. It was called adjustment.

As good karma would have it, both of our children moved back east, still many miles away, but at least in the same country and on the same coast. Our family happily expanded as the kids chose their spouses. The locomotive began to move again. We picked up speed when my son and daughter-in-law announced a baby was on the way.

Shopping began immediately. Baby’s first Christmas ornament, a green crocheted elf’s hat, tiny red shoes and a multitude of adorable winter outfits accumulated in a basket in the closet. The old wives’ tale warning me not to buy baby presents until after the baby was born whispered to me, but it felt too wonderful . . . like old times . . . like family.

And then, it happened; problems with the pregnancy that continued to escalate: questions, fear and dread. Would it be a choice of mother or child? My selfish stash of Christmas gifts, prematurely purchased, crossed my mind. Silly superstitions, I told myself, but the doubt chewed the edges of my reason. We had no thanks to give at Thanksgiving, but by Christmas we were hopeful. By April, we held our collective breaths, and by the end of the month we had our beautiful red-haired baby. Mother’s love and sacrifice endured. A true treasure–our own miracle.

Two years later, Thanksgiving was a bountiful one when my daughter and son-in-law informed us of their own impending bundle of joy. They arrived at the dinner table wearing matching red shirts that proclaimed themselves “Mom” and “Dad.” The turkey was eaten with gusto between baby chatter and name possibilities. If the baby was a girl, her middle name would be Rose. Life was sweet!

A Christmas visit was planned with our red-headed Addie, and Mila Rose was en route, growing in visual comparisons to fruits and vegetables. At Thanksgiving she was the size of a poppy seed, and by Christmas, a whopping cranberry. All was right with the world. Norman Rockwell had returned for the holidays.

There was no morning sickness, just a beautiful pregnancy glow. At my daughter’s four month scan, the technician had seemed concerned. She left the room and returned with the head nurse and then the doctor.

“There appears to be an anomaly of the heart,” the doctor said as kindly as he could. “You’ll need to see a pediatric cardiologist, immediately.”

This couldn’t be happening again, we all thought. We’d all been there before; the sadness and fear returned. Open heart surgery would be needed. Immediately? After one month? Two? More questions. The list of risks and complications were longer than the positives to hold on to. An amazing team of physicians were assembled for Mila’s birth and subsequent care. The competence and kindness of the team guided my daughter and her husband through the remainder of her pregnancy.

To everyone’s surprise, Mila was two days late. She was a healthy weight and looked out of place in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) with all the premature babies. Except for the tubes and monitors, it would be easy to think she was a healthy newborn. The doctors agreed Mila should wait for the surgery for as long as her heart would allow. The delay would let her grow a little bigger and stronger.

A date was scheduled for October. We were anxious for the procedure to be done and the road to a normal life to begin. But while we waited, a viral infection set in, sending her little heart into a tailspin. Emergency surgery was performed and was successful. The original operation had to be postponed until our little warrior princess recovers.

Now I have two baskets in my closet, one red and one green, overflowing with infant and toddler clothes and shoes, trinkets, books and holiday keepsakes. We know from past experience: good news is worth waiting for. Christmas is coming again, and it’s full of miracles!

About this writer

  • Rose Ann Sinay Rose Ann Sinay is a freelance writer typing away in sunny North Carolina. Her articles/stories have been published in The Carolinas Today, The Oddville Press and The Brunswick Beacon.

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10 Responses to “Waiting for Christmas”

  1. Kailey Konow says:

    I can’t read this story without crying. Thanks for capturing the unique miracles for our 2 amazingly special little girls. Shopping for Christmas always seems to soothe things! We will all make ornaments together soon- future memories to be made.

  2. Diane says:

    I really shouldn’t just open up Sasee and automatically go to one of your articles because as you know my friend I usually end up in tears. You once again touched on the emotions of the past, and bring it to light once again. This article, as are all of your articles is deep and true with emotion. Oh and YES Grandchildren are such great blessings. Merry Christmas Ro to you and all your family and hear is hoping for a Healthy New Year!

  3. Erika Hoffman says:

    Years rolled by like a powerful, yet silent, locomotive.—I love that line. You have a gift of creating just the right image that captures how a mom feels as life keeps going on into the future. You also capture the emotion of an “expectant” grandma. So many of us of a certain age can relate so easily to the thoughts you so eloquently express.

    • Rose Ann says:

      Your comments make my day, Erika! It is a wonderful feeling to be validated by a fellow writer, and one as talented as you! Thank you.

  4. Colleen Wenthem says:

    You are amazing! How you could capture the story in a short concise and emotional way. Sending lots of positive energy for sweet Mila, she will be making ornaments and cookies soon with big Cousin Addie…two miracle babies.

  5. Britt says:

    Truly a wonderful and well written story.

  6. Judi ghattas says:

    You captured the miracle of life and the fragility of our existence as well. Life can be challenging but wonderful at the same time.

  7. Kathy strunk says:

    can’t wait until We read a story, complete with pictures of those beautiful flour and water ornaments!

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