A Christmas Birthday – Does A Christmas Baby Get Cheated?

Christmas Day photos

I had a baby born on Christmas Day, but would he always think that is special or would he feel cheated?

Finding out our baby was due on Christmas Day thrilled me beyond measure, but being due to have a baby on Christmas Day and actually having a  baby on Christmas Day are two different things, and I couldn’t help but think, “Really, who has a Baby on Christmas? Certainly, I couldn’t be lucky enough!”

However, Christmas morning rolled around, and it became obvious that this would in fact be the big day. The cramps came closer together; the pain became more intense, and I knew we had to go.

(The above is an excerpt from part 1. To read the rest, please click here).

At the hospital, we were greeted by a Jewish doctor wearing antlers and a Rudolf nose. Even if he hadn’t quite grasped the meaning of Christmas, he couldn’t deny the Joy the season brings as he happily delivered our son into my arms. Our little one was placed in his bassinet, the name we had chosen months ago written on a tag beside the bright red Christmas stocking the nursing staff had hung above his sleeping head.

Later, I’d think more about the name for our Christmas baby. We had chosen Grace Noelle had he been a she, but for some reason it didn’t occur to me until later that perhaps we should have named this baby boy Christopher or Nick or something Christmassy too.

Maybe it’s because I’ve spent almost four years of my life pregnant and I’ve gotten used to people critiquing baby names. Maybe it’s that I’ve learned to accept those name choice critics as part of parenthood, or maybe it’s that, now that my little one is five, the memory is so distant that I don’t remember, but whatever the reason, the criticism of his name didn’t bother me as much as things people said about his birth date. People would, at first, light up upon hearing he had been born on Christmas Day.

A Christmas Baby! they’d always exclaim, then quickly look crestfallen. “Poor kid,” they’d say, “he must get so cheated!”

Somehow,  the specialness of being born on Christmas Day had been replaced by the realization that he’d have only one celebration a year, and I began to wonder if I’d been selfish to be so excited about having a baby on this wonderful day.

There were years all his friends were away for Christmas, and he didn’t get the party I’d hoped to throw, and there have been many times he received birthday gifts in Christmas wrapping paper or received one gift meant for two celebrations, but there were good things too

Some of his best “birthday” celebrations weren’t on his birthday at all. We had modified half birthdays, and my mom had the great idea of taking him out to dinner on the 25th of some month, kind of like a surprise party. Those ideas were great, I still feared that this little one’s day would always be overshadowed by Christmas.

Most children are #1 on their birthdays. 

My Christmas Baby would always be #2 on his special day.

I had to be sure he didn’t miss out.

Christmas morning begins in one of the boys’ rooms with a Bible reading of the birth of Jesus. Then my Christmas Baby opens the first gift, his birthday gift, while his brothers are impatiently trying to be patient and wanting desperately to see if Santa has come. Only when my Christmas Baby is ready do we follow the glow of the tree Santa has decorated and begin to open Christmas presents.

My efforts to make him feel special sometimes extend to our Christmas decor. Some years, our living room has skipped the traditional green and red in favor of green and gold for the Green Bay Packers or maybe it’s an alien invasion Christmas where Star Wars and aliens play a prevalent role in the scheme. I’ve even made him a, “Christmas tree birfday cake that is really an alien spaceship disguised as a Christmas tree so no one knows it’s really a cake!”

But despite my best efforts, I still often wondered if my Christmas Baby was begin cheated by having been born on this day.

Inevitably, at random times of the year, people would exclaim,

“Oooh a CHRISTMAS BABY!”

and instead of watching for their crestfallen face as they realized it would mean fewer presents, I watched my son’s face for signs that he may be crestfallen too. Instead, I often saw something else.

The Christmas Baby exclamation would cause my little one to put his chubby, dimpled little fists on his sweet, little hips and pucker his scowling, if-looks-could-kill, little brow. Sometimes he’d mutter under his breath. Other times he was not nearly so subtle, but either way, to me his words were always clear and made me hold back laughter,

“I am not a Christmas Baby!

I am a Christmas Big Boy!”

Being a Christmas child was not bad for him.

It was just very much part of who he was.

I began worrying less about him being cheated in the ways most people meant. The secular celebration of Christmas has become such a part of our lives, and things like Green Bay Packer decorations and alien invasions, first gifts and surprise dinners out have become so expected at our Christmas celebrations that I began wondering instead if my Christmas Baby was in fact getting cheated, not because of the doubling up of gifts or the lack of birthday wrapping paper, but because, in all the compensating, he might lose the realization that this special day was also Jesus’ special day.

I now worried that he would be cheated,

not for want of more cheap toys,

but for want of the gift of Our Savior.

I shouldn’t have worried. God doesn’t run competitions between His children, especially between His Son, Jesus Christ, and those He has given to us. He knows it would be an unfair contest no matter how great my children are. My Christmas Baby didn’t have to be 2nd in the way I was afraid he’d be 2nd. He was 2nd in the way we are all 2nd to Christ – and that’s okay – even on your birthday! No compensating necessary!

My Christmas Baby was going to be all right, and I knew he got the gift of Christmas when he said to me one day, very matter of factly,

Mom don’t worry. Everyone shares a birthday with someone.

I’m just lucky that I share mine with Jesus.

He is smarter than I am some days.

Now, years later, I am happy to say, I am continuously thrilled to have that Christmas Baby, and when people still sometimes pity him for being born on this special day, I just smile. I no longer worry about him feeling cheated.

In fact, sometimes I wonder if those bemoaning his birth on this day are being cheated instead. Do they not know what an honor it is to share this day? Do they not know that the real presence of our Savior is so much more valuable than any credit card purchase?

I can wonder about them, or I can pray for them, and then I can leave it all to God. I know that God has great plans for all his children – whatever day they were born upon!

Merry Christmas! 

Happy Birthday!

(Just in case your birthday falls on Christmas too, and notice, no Christmas colors in that message!)

God Bless…

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A Baby Due on Christmas Day

Sonogram of Baby due on Christmas Day

Having a Baby on Christmas Day!

We laughed hearing the due date -

Our Baby was due on Christmas Day!

The Christmas season has always been my favorite time of the year, and Christmas Day has always been my favorite day of the year. To have a Baby born on this day would be just immeasurable Joy, but really…how many babies are actually born on their due dates and how many of those babies are born on Christmas Day??? I knew the chances weren’t good,

But still… a Christmas Baby!

Now, that really would be a Blessing!!

Christmas morning, I was up before dawn. We had been hit by some sort of awful bug that week, and even my husband and I had been running high fevers and feeling miserable. Luckily, my fever had broken Christmas Eve, so I was feeling only a bit under the weather. My husband, on the other hand was still miserable, and at some point during the middle of the night, he moved himself to the couch to try to sleep. I knew, in addition to not feeling well, he hadn’t slept well either, so it was with some trepidation that I thought of waking him up with the news.

“I think it’s time.”

Telling people you THINK it’s time on a regular day is one thing. Tearing people away from family and celebrations, gift giving and eggnog (especially when they are sick!) is something else entirely, and I sure didn’t want to cry wolf on this special, Glorious day, but as the sun turned the cold winter skies to grey, my pain became more intense.

I took a long hot shower.

Maybe the warm, soothing blasts would ease the cramping.

But the cramping didn’t ease.

I turned on the television and put on some music, soft but upbeat tunes.

Maybe I could work off the pain through exercise. Braxton-Hicks contractions fade with exercise.

But real contractions intensify, and finally I couldn’t wait any longer.

I went and shook my sleeping husband.

“Honey,” I whispered.

“Don’t say this is it,” he mumbled back.

I cringed, “I’m sorry, but think it’s time.”

I called my mom. “Mom, I think it’s time, but it might not be, so don’t rush. Take your time. It’s probably a false alarm. Who has a Baby on Christmas anyway?”

I remember the conversation, and yet, by the time my mother, smiling and happy, full of Christmas cheer and the exciting prospect of meeting her new grandchild by the day’s end, walked in the door, I was seriously considering causing bodily harm to her for doing exactly what I’d told her to, “Take her time.”

My brows were knotted. My expression deadly as she walked in that door, “Where were you???” I asked between contractions. She innocently replied with logic and truth, “You said take your time. I let your brothers open their gifts and…”

I think my expression stopped her, or maybe it was just the next wave of pain blocked her out. I do remember her surprised look as she questioned how quickly the contractions were coming.

Sometime during all of this, Troy had woken up and strolled out to oooh and aaaah over the lit up tree and presents. I handed him a package when really he wanted to delight in the tree and the colorful lights and the delicious piney smell of Christmas.

“Open it,” I’m sure I demanded.

And he did, “Oooohh blocks PLAY!”

This happily grinning toddler wanted to play with his new blocks! Why would he want to do that?? Didn’t he see I didn’t have time to play with blocks (Little did I know then, the demands on my time would get exponentially worse over the next year or twenty).

“We have no time for blocks! Open the next one.”

And so it went. This little child wanting to play with his blocks, his trucks, his whatevers, and the adults rushing him through his gifts.

I’m guessing this day is part of what led to his wanting to play more with the box than the toy in his later years!

Finally, it really was time. I couldn’t wait a second longer.

Please join me for Part II later this week.

God Bless…

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Francis Xavier Had The Whole World

Path to Bible

Only one path lets you keep your soul.

Francis Xavier had it pretty good. In fact, to some, he may have seemed to have the whole world. After all, he was an aristocrat; he was highly educated, wealthy, young, respected,…you name it, Francis really did seem to have it all.

Including a pesky little illiterate friend named Ignatius, later known as Saint Ignatius of Loyola – founder of the Jesuits.

Francis Xavier was at the university of Paris when Ignatius began hounding him to join religious life. Saint Francis wanted no part of it. He planned to pursue worldly things, to be counted among the intellectuals, the respected, the admired of the world. How could this happen if he gave up his own goals to follow Christ?

But Ignatius knew better. “What profits a man,” Ignatius repeatedly asked Francis, “if he gains the whole world and loses his soul?” (See more at: http://www.ignatianspirituality.com)

The question took a while to sink in but eventually, Saint Francis became one of the greatest missionaries of the Catholic church, traveling to India and Japan among other places and winning 30,000 souls for Christ.

But that’s the end of the story,

and we often forget years upon years worth of the middles of our stories.

Yes, we know Francis had a comfortable life and attended the university. Yes, we know Saint Ignatius was instrumental in helping him find his path. Yes, we know that path led to leading others to Christ, including those who had never heard of Jesus Christ, those who worshiped idols instead of their Loving Father.

But we miss everything in the middle.

We jump from cushy lifestyle to sainthood

in the space of just a few short sentences.

But there’s a whole lot of middle-of-the-story we miss.

We assume the road to sainthood was easy for Francis and others like him without thinking of how foolish Francis must have looked to his high class friends, how worried must his mother have been, how disappointed must his father, advisor to the king, have felt. We skip the idea that others must have tried to talk him out of his vocation as much as Ignatius talked to him about it.

Remember, in those days, he was not Saint Francis Xavier. He was simply Francis of the Xavier family, with all the normal insecurities and desires and doubts of any normal, average every day Joe. To those around him, Francis may or may not have been anyone special, but one can guess that many must have thought he was crazy to give up living in such a world of comfort to live in one of such sacrificial service.

Today, we tend to look at the saints and admire them, but we also tend to put them on pedestals, assuming their greatness came easily to them and that they are far above us, but in many cases the saints struggled with faith too. Some were born gentle and Godly, but many, like Francis Xavier, were distracted by worldly pursuits and required great, consistent, enduring prayer on the behalf of those around them as well as a heart open to receiving Christ. Without either of these, the praying friends and the open heart, Francis may not have heeded God’s call even if he had heard it.

Thankfully for thousands upon thousands of Christians worldwide including us too, Francis did not let his pursuit of worldly goods interfere with the calling God was putting on his heart. He did not let the noise of his generation, the distractions of wealth and education, intelligence and physical comfort pull him away from his true vocation, from what he was meant to do.

In short, Saint Francis Xavier, with the help of a persistent friend and God Himself, refused to trade his soul for the world. Today, how many of us can say the same? When this world and our faith collide in telling us how to act and we choose faith, when friends and family whom we love question and mock our decisions, when we are told we are crazy for doing something we know to be right despite others saying it’s wrong, when we reach out to someone despite risk to ourselves, we are putting God’s Love first. We are  refusing to gain the world while losing our soul. By detaching from things that signify success in this life, we are fixing on God for Love with Him in the next. We are putting eternity with God ahead of temporary worldly gains.

Saint Francis knew that, You do not become fixed on God until you become detached from everything else but God. (quoted from a Latin phrase and Father John A. Hardon’s blog – The Real Presence)

Do you know it too? Do you believe it? Do you live it? Do you Love it?

Are you cashing in your soul for worldly gains? What do you need to detach from in order to more perfectly serve the Lord? What is holding you back from sainthood? Do you doubt God’s ability to turn you into a saint such as Saint Francis Xavier who started out as simply Francis Xavier? 

Tonight, on this feast day of Saint Francis Xavier, I will pray that you make choices that may lose you the world but gain you your soul. When that happens, you’ll never go back.

God Bless…

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When Government & Values Conflict

the WHite House - Government and Faith Collide

When you Love your country, but not all of it’s policies…

Thursday night, President Barak Obama spoke publicly of his plans to invoke an executive order allowing millions of those who entered America illegally and those who have stayed beyond their visas to remain in the United States without threat of deportation.

Before the speech was finished, the division such an executive order would affect was obvious forcing some to face how often personal values go against government demands and to question how to live with both.

America is not the only nation to face challenges which divide people of faith, nor is immigration the only issue to cause division. Abortion, care for the less fortunate, education, gun rights, marriage, and taxes are just some of the many issues that divide people around the world and which governments often attempt to control, sometimes dictating outcomes simply by failing to pass legislation in support of Christian values thereby allowing anti-Christian practices to become accepted common practice.

So what is a good Catholic who also wants to be a good citizen to do?

This article appeared last Saturday on Catholic Stand where I am a monthly contributor. To read the rest of the article, please go to Catholic Stand.

photo credit

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Thanksgiving, Coincidences, & Gratitude

Thanksgiving pumpkins

Can you give thanks for your situation even when it doesn’t look as good as that of those around you?

I used to be a big believer in coincidence, random things happening to people for no apparent reason. Connections made and lost, games won, keys found, friendships rekindled, car accidents avoided – or not,… you name it!

Pretty much anything could be looked at with wonder. I’d exclaim aloud, “That’s CRAZY! What are the chances of that!?!?”

Not that I’d actually pause long enough to calculate the chances, but I would often laugh (or cry) in wonder for a second or two over the chain of events that led up to whatever the coincidence was that struck me as particularly momentous at that time.

Not so much any more. Now I’ve made that pendulum swing pretty far in the opposite direction realizing that, in truth, very little if anything, is left to chance.Continue Reading

The Feast of Christ the King & New Year Resolutions

Christ the King

Celebrate the Feast of Christ the King

Yesterday, Catholics worldwide celebrated the Feast of Christ the King. It is a celebration of our Lord Jesus Christ as King of Heaven and Earth. It is the culmination of all that we learn and witness to through the year, from the coming Advent season to His death on the Cross, from His glorious Resurrection to His Ascension, from the works He inspired in the first disciples to those He continues to inspire in us in the present day.

The Solemnity of Christ as OUR King reminds us that, in this day of division and over-reaching governments, in this day of instant gratification and self-serving, me-first, I-DESERVE-to-be-happy lifestyles, in this day of anything goes and tomorrow has no consequences, the Feast of Christ the King reminds us that we are being watched over by someone greater than ourselves.

Lord Jesus Christ – King of All!

The Feast of Christ the King also marks the end of the church year, making today a day for new beginnings.Continue Reading

Life’s “If Onlys”…

20141013_145954

If only this warty pumpkin could be turned into a magical coach and sweep me away to the ball…or at least get some cute, magical, little cartoon critters to clean my house for me, then Life would be Good!

If only I was thinner…

smarter…

more like her…

If only my parents…

my spouse…

my children…

If only I had more money, more time, the right car, a better home,…

“If onlys…” can take up much of our time and energy and trick us into believing “If only this happened, life would be so much better.”

And sometimes we’re right,

 But often times we aren’t.Continue Reading

Thank You to America’s Veterans

American Flag

Freedom is not free. Take time to thank our Military and the Lord for keeping us Safe. Never take our Blessings for granted.

In most other countries of the world, the life of a single mom of five children would be very different from the life my children and I lead.

Here in the Great United States of America, my family’s struggles come in many forms. I don’t know how to get my kids to their different activities. I don’t have time to sit and do schoolwork and college applications and scholarship searches. My heart breaks when my boys miss having a full time dad to throw a baseball around, to watch the big football game with, or to look up to as a strong, faith-filled, loving, loyal, and present role model. Our struggles involve not being able to buy a good car, cutting back on family vacations, and hand-me-down clothing.

Wow! Are my struggles nothing when I sit and think of how they match up to the struggles of those desperate to work for any amount of money, those struggling to find food in garbage dumps, those dying unattended from curable diseases, those scared, afraid, hurting for no reason other than that they were born in a part of the world we’d rather not recognize.Continue Reading

Even Jesus Got Angry

money, wedding rings, shot glass

Jesus got angry because man had turned His temple into a place of greed. How does your anger compare?

Did you ever get that feeling that you just want to throw something?

My brother and I have a good relationship for the most part, but, as all siblings do  on occasion, we’ve had our skirmishes, and one time I remember in particular, for whatever reason, he threw the phone at me.

Luckily for me, it was still attached to the wall by that long curled leash – remember the good old days when teenagers could only talk on the family phone within a few feet of the kitchen, those bygone days when socializing didn’t invade every waking (and sleeping!) hour???

I can’t remember what the fight was about, but I probably deserved to have something thrown at me a few times growing up! I love my brothers, but we fought over some pretty stupid things as kids – still do sometimes. I’m sure it’s more my fault than theirs though! ;)Continue Reading