Every mother worries about their baby at one time or another, especially if that child is born prematurely or had problems at birth. I was no different. Our oldest daughter, Jennifer arrived seven weeks early and extremely ill from an infection, making Danny and I wonder if she’d live or die. So when we got her home, I was more cautious than most, greeting visitors to our home with a thermometer sleeved in plastic. I took medical histories of anyone who dared cough within ten feet of my baby and demanded hand washing from anyone who made a request to hold her. I watched Jennifer like a hawk, keeping a detailed record of her milestones, my nerves grated if she lagged behind for even a day.
Which was what we faced Christmas, 1986. At a little over two months, Jennifer hadn’t laughed, not even a giggle. The nurse in me knew that I was being ridiculous, that with her early birth, Jennifer should have been only a month old. But the mother in me didn’t understand that logic. Every one of my friends’s babies were laughing--was Jennifer missing her funny bone? So we did our best to get her giggling by putting twinkling lights all over the house, stacking mountains of presents under the tree. Her daddy even made up silly Christmas songs with funny faces and sang them to her, but Jennifer didn’t crack a smile. By Christmas Eve, Danny and I were ready to give up. Something was wrong with our baby, we just knew it.
That night, we went to our annual family Christmas get together. Danny and I had been tag-teaming through dinner since Jennifer’s arrival so my dad volunteered to hold her while we enjoyed our dessert. A small package was delivered to Daddy--the great aunts brought little gifts for the kids every year--who held it in front of Jennifer.
“You want me to open it for you, sweetheart?” Daddy asked, already tearing into the paper. A couple of tugs at the wrapping revealed a Raggedy Andy doll with his red-yarn hair and crooked smile. “Well, look at that, Jennifer. Isn’t he funny looking?”
Jennifer’s eyes widened, and for a moment or two, I thought she might cry. But then I heard it, this tiny bubble of laughter. Her lips spread out into a toothless grin at the sound, and she giggled again, this time louder until it filled the air around us. Our baby was laughing so we joined in.
That Christmas was the first of many Christmases with first Jennifer, then her younger sister, Carly, each one as unique as our daughters themselves. They’ve given us more joy than we could’ve imagined since that first Christmas as parents over twenty-seven years ago.
Patty Smith Hall has been making up stories to keep herself occupied since her parents forced her on boring Sunday drives into the Georgia countryside when she was too young to stay home by herself. Now she's happy to share her wild imagination and love of history with others, including her husband of 29 years, Danny, two smart and gorgeous daughters, and a yorkie that she spoils like a grandbaby until someone decides to actually give her one. She resides in North Georgia.
You can purchase her novel The Doctor's Bride [here]
For today's giveaway I'm excited to show off these amazing wooden ornaments! They are tiny and light, perfect for the top of a tree. Their intricate detail and special scenes/images are what I was first drawn to. Rules to enter the giveaway are explained below. Don't forget, there are 11 more items coming up in these next few weeks so check back often!