Monday, January 07, 2008

Unexpected Birthday

I had a birthday a couple of days ago. Now before all four of you who read this start filling my comment box with warm wishes, you need to understand something. Because my fateful day comes at the end of a traditionally busy holiday season, almost everyone (myself included) is more than tired of celebrating by the time it arrives. Most people forget it altogether while others send belated greetings which are appreciated, but not necessary. That's not to say that I have anything against birthdays, I don't. I just don't want to be another thing to be tended to at the bottom of an already daunting holiday to-do list.

My parents trained me early on for what they knew would be an oft forgotten day by keeping it low key from the beginning. The traditional parties ended at about age 6 and turned into a few friends hanging out and me getting to choose the dinner menu that night. The best remembered of these birthday meals was pizza, green beans, apple sauce and chocolate pie. Come to think of it, that still sounds good.

This years particular birthday (38 if you're scoring at home) was very pleasant. I was served breakfast in bed by my oldest daughter who also gave me numerous homemade cards and (along with her little sister) a lot of birthday hugs and kisses. Stephanie gave me a reading chair that she found half price at an outlet and a lamp for our bedroom (yeah, that's hot) and took me to lunch and a movie. Pretty good day.

I did receive a few other gifts and greetings from family and friends and believe me that meant a lot. In a strange way, low expectations result in a higher degree of joy. I'm surprised to receive anything at all, so I'm overjoyed when I do.

I believe in marking time and celebrating, however, like Carl Sandberg said, "Nearly all the best things that came to me in life have been unexpected, unplanned by me." It was a surprise to me when I arrived in this world. In fact, I can recall having no expectations about the future whatsoever. So I mark my day of entry in the same way; no expectations, all surprises. It's worked out pretty well so far.

By the way, my wife does NOT feel the same way I do. Her birthday is February 15. You might want to start shopping now.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Bailey's Christmas

We had a good holiday season, but I must admit I'm glad it's over. This was a tough year to say the least and the New Year brings hope of peace and healing. We spent Christmas in California in the Bay area with Steph's family (I haven't downloaded the pics yet) and then came home for a late Christmas with my family.

Connor's absence left a huge hole in our hearts, but reminds us how precious each of our children are. The Christmas hugs were tighter and we all held on to each other a little longer this year. We know many of you were thinking of our family and praying for us over the holidays. Thank you.

Just about the time we started to open gifts, Emily found her pacifier and diapers and was ready for bed.
However, with a little candy from her cousin Reagan and her new Dora the Explorer backpack, she perked right up! She loves that backpack! She wants to sleep with the backpack.
Among Rainey's favorite gifts was this book that her Aunt Laurie found for her. It's The Christmas Lizard. Rainey was in a musical based on this book earlier in December. It is out of print, but Aunt Laurie (world class shopper) found it online and had it shipped from Belgium!

Hutton found time to relax and watch the little ones pass out gifts. Seems like only yesterday he was the little one!

Even Papa scored big! Here he is in his chair, loaded down with gifts.
Three generations of beautiful women. That's my sister Lee Ann in the middle with her daughter Bailey on the left and my mom Rose on the right. Just seeing those three smile is a wonderful gift.

It's a Bailey family tradition that all the cousins gather around this rocking chair for a picture. Moving clockwise from the upper left, that's Hutton, Jordan, Emily, Caitlin, Rainey, Reagan and Bailey.
They keep getting bigger, but the group is smaller by one. It's still difficult to believe and impossible to explain how much we miss Connor. Our hearts ache, our stomach's hurt and our tears sneak up on us.

Here's to a brighter and peaceful 2008.