Every December 5 since I was a little girl, we have honored the tradition of leaving shoes outside our bedroom door for a visit from St. Nicholas, who has been known to come by and leave goodies for us. On only one December 5th in recent memory I omitted to leave my shoes out, as Haus Meister and I were in labor/delivery that night waiting for the best gift we’ll ever receive on St. Nicholas Day–our son the Trooper.
Suffice to say, December 6 is a triumphant day at the Haus. We know St. Nicholas has been here because suddenly there is a tree where there was none the night before!
Also, a special red sack containing the letter to Santa/St. Nicholas that we put out with our shoes has disappeared! We hope for its reappearance on Christmas morning, containing goodies and, if last year is any indication, a letter from St. Nicholas!
After we enjoy the treats placed ’round our shoes (always including an apple, orange, and chocolate coins), we go on with the day’s events. This year we had Mass to prepare for, and beforehand I made the Cake.
It’s tricky making a birthday delicacy for a little fellow whose idea of “sweet” is strawberry-banana yogurt. His brother the Rascal balked at the idea of not having a cake, so we have lately taken to the idea of somehow including a gift with the cake! One year, inspired by an internet article, I loaded the foil-lined bed of a toy dump truck with brownies (aka “dirt”), and wheeled it into the room. Unfortunately, it’s hard to top that one. This year Trooper’s brothers gave him a wooden Thomas engine that had a snowplow on its front, so we made a snowscape sort of cake.
In retrospect, I should have piled some “snow” on either side of the tracks, but I had run out of frosting.
Every child’s birthday is an amazingly special day in this house, but with Trooper it has a different tone. It’s almost like the commemoration of a battle won. After all, none of the other children nearly died at birth. His birthday was the day he began his fight, the day he began proving wrong the dire predictions of some of the NICU staff. By the end of his sojourn 119 days later he had the staff cheering him on, as well as an incredible amount of prayer warriors in parishes and monasteries that I hadn’t heard of before the event.
I’ve been trying for over 24 hours to think of something to say about our feelings yesterday. It’s real hard. I believe an overwhelming sense of gratitude best sums it up. I can’t find the words to fully express how much of a true blessing he has been–and is–to our entire family. But there it is. Trooper lives, and the rest of us are all the better for it.