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Christmas Eve babies -- oh Noel

A year ago today, I was feeling pretty lousy. With Christmas only three days away, there was plenty to do.

I still needed to shop a bit, bake cookies with friends and finally get around to wrapping gifts.

Meanwhile, my sinuses were throbbing and my body ached.

By the end of the day, I realized I was going to need a little help to make it through the holiday.

So the next morning I skipped church and headed to the doctor, thankful for Sunday office hours.

Sure enough, I had a sinus infection and was prescribed an antibiotic.

I soon had reason to be glad I had opted to see the doctor rather than tough it out with over-the-counter remedies.  

Early the next morning, Christmas Eve, the phone rang. It was my very pregnant daughter. Her baby wasn't due for two more weeks, but she was in labor.

There was no need to hurry, she said, but she wondered if I could come to stay with her 2-year-old so she and her husband could head to the hospital.

I hurried.

The drive took less than 10 minutes. I arrived to find my tech-savvy daughter and son-in-law both using their smart phones to time the contractions.

With my daughter deep breathing and braced against the couch, her toddler would lean against her and grin at me.

It took my breath away to be part of such a moment. Did I mention it was my birthday?

Soon, the mom and dad were off to the hospital, and the youngster and I proceeded to do what we do best. We played.

We also worked our way down the long, detailed list my daughter had prepared for their holiday celebration. If social scientists needed proof of expectant mom nesting, this was it.

In early afternoon, my son-in-law's family arrived from northern West Virginia. They were there only a short time before it was time for them to head to the hospital.

This was no false alarm. The baby had arrived, too.  

I stayed put, reluctant to share any more germs than I already had. Besides, I had to keep working down that list.

By evening there was a large gathering in the house, and we enjoyed the festive meal my daughter had planned. It was a cinch to pull off because she had thought of everything down to the Christmas crackers.

We pulled them to the sound of loud snaps and put on the paper crowns that fell out of the brightly colored tubes.  Then we took a group picture and sent it to her at the hospital via text message.  

Sometimes when people hear that I was born on Christmas Eve, they express pity. What a lousy day for a birthday, they'll say.

I've never felt that way. My parents did a good job of making me believe it was very special. They started by giving me the middle name "Noel."

By coincidence, my husband also has a December birthday and a middle name with the same spelling but a masculine pronunciation. It's also his father's middle name.

With that kind of family thread, we gave our daughter "Noel" for a middle name, even though she was born in September. She and her husband followed suit for their first child, an August baby.

So when little Meredith arrived last Dec. 24, the count stood at five Noels. Could we stand one more?

My daughter could not imagine someday trying to tell this child why not.

So now there are six.

On Tuesday we will gather for a double birthday party. The two Noels with what I consider to be the strongest claim to such a wonderful name will probably share their cake.

Friend retired this year as

the Daily Mail's editor and publisher. Tweet to her @nanyafriend.




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