Christmas 2013 was special. My daughter, my son, their dad and I spent the week together for the first time in almost 20 years.
The venue: the home of my son and daughter-in-law. The reason: my precious grandson—our first.
We all wanted to share Christmas with the new baby. On the surface, it looked like just a typical week of fun, but on reflection it revealed much more about the impact of the baby on our family life. We are hoping for more grandbabies, so for us and for others who are also expecting, we reflect on the joy of the family gathering with a new baby at Christmas.
When my children were growing up, our home was the venue for the Christmas gathering of the extended family. The group consisted mainly of their dad’s relatives. As an only child, I had no siblings, nieces and nephews. By the time our marriage ended, my children had become accustomed to these big family gatherings, so they continued to spend Christmas with their dad and his relatives.The arrival of my grandson in 2013 established a new family nucleus. Neither my son nor daughter complained about missing their aunts, uncles and cousins at Christmas. Nor did I hear my daughter-in-law complain about missing her extended family. The baby initiated a new era and created a new family nucleus without a single bit of resistance from any
The response of our family to the new baby reveals our belief in and our loyalty to the family values we adopt.
- Why did it not matter for my children that the family gathering was so much smaller than usual?
- What other Christmas programs at work, at church or with friends did we all pass up during Christmas week?
- Why did my children’s dad and I want to share the same space for Christmas, although we had not exchanged Christmas greetings for several years?
This was our opportunity to tell the new baby that family is a priority; that he can count on his closest relatives to be present when it matters; that we welcome him and thank him for the opportunity to emphasize our commitment to family.
We brought presents for our baby and for each other. We posed together with him for photographs. We smiled together as we watched his reaction to the Christmas lights. We applauded together the movements and sounds he made. The love, the joy and the peace of Christmas was very real. Such was the impact of the new baby on our show of affection for him and for each other.On one of our shopping sprees, I pushed the baby in the stroller back to the car. The granddad came round to fold the contraption and put it in the back of the vehicle, but he was having a problem. I stayed with him and laughed about how much more complicated these new devices were than the ones we had back in the day. My daughter saw us laughing and joked, “Look at them, they’re having flashbacks.” So what? We were happy grandparents.
(4) He Makes Us Keep Up with Media Gadgets
Parents are expected to keep up with the last models of toys and gadgets, but do grandparents have to? What happened to the toys we could dump in a bucket of water to wash them?All his toys had batteries. Many of them had computer screens, flashing lights and talking voices. One of them had the old house phone attached, and he had no idea what to do with the receiver. Equally surprising was that applying his index finger on these gadgets seemed as normal as drinking from his bottle.In my article Promises to My Unborn Grandson https://realblackgrandmothers.com/promises-unborn-grandson/ I wrote “Hopefully, I’ll keep up with you on your electronic gadgets, at least until you’re five.” Now that he is born, I realize that I was so much behind in my thinking.
(5) He Validates What Christmas Means to Us
Having a new baby with us at Christmas makes us think about what we need him to know about the season. What we need him to know is what we ourselves believe. There were some basic traditions that we agreed upon:
- The Christmas family gathering (as complete as possible) every year;
- The reading of the Christmas story (Matthew 1: 18-25) on Christmas Day;
- No Santa Claus;
- The sharing of Christmas joy with those present and absent (by some form of technology).
God knows that after so many years of celebrating Christmas the same way, and in some cases with the same people, we would appreciate a new feature now and then. He sends grandbabies to help us renew our faith, our love and our joy, as we share with them the story of the first Christmas.