Wednesday, September 27, 2006

December Baby

One of the most priceless gifts parents can give to their children is the story of their birth. Because we have no memory of our earliest beginnings, the only way to know about this significant event is from someone who witnessed it.

The story of my birth has a story. I was born in late December, almost late enough to be a New Year baby, and the story of my birth had become legend by the time I learned the simple truth. The story my father liked to tell was that four days after Christmas, he and my mother--who was already two weeks overdue with me--hiked miles up snow-laden Craney Hill in New Hampshire, where at the summit my mother did jumping jacks in the snowdrifts to shake me down. This exercise did the trick, because I was born within hours, after a hair-raising, white-knuckle drive to Concord Hospital in the middle of a raging blizzard.

I loved hearing this dramatic account of my beginnings. But a few years ago when I asked my mother about it, she couldn't remember hiking up Craney Hill. All she remembered of anything that involved Craney Hill was that she and my father had taken a drive around it sometime before I was born. (My dad loved to drive the back country roads of New Engand, anywhere and anytime.)

Soon, more of the truth came out in Gramma's diaries. I was supposed to have been born a week before Christmas, but by Christmas Eve, my mother lay hopelessly huge and uncomfortable on the sofa while the rest of her family sat around the dining table feasting on their holiday dinner together. The next morning, she got up early and walked around town--eating breakfast at her cousin's house and then visiting with her aunt and uncle on the other side of town before returning home. I can see my young mother trudging in the drifts in her winter boots, after months of trying to keep me safely inside, now determined to push me out of the nest where I'd long overstayed my welcome.

I was born five days later in Concord Memorial Hospital.

As much as I loved hearing my father's version of how I came to be, I appreciated once again my grandmother's devotion to recording the facts as they happened and when they happened.

Oh, my father's story did have a nugget of truth in it--I was born during an ice storm.

Do you know the story of your birth? If you don't, try to find out. If you're a parent, have you told your children their stories? If you haven't, please tell them (better yet, write it to them) before this precious story melts away--or they make one up.

© 2006 by Marilyn C. Hilton

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