There have been murmurings that “A Year Without Santa Claus” is the best Christmas cartoon out there. Fear not, good people, I am here to reassure you such a ridiculous claim is patently false.
Obviously such accolades belong to the one true story of Christmas. “A Charlie Brown Christmas.”
This week we visited the NICU. The muppets pretended to be shy as we chatted with our nurses, who were busy oohing and ahhing over how big and adorable the boys have become. But we did not arrive empty handed; we came bearing gifts – for each of the residents spending their holiday in NICU Pod B.
At the beginning of our Peanuts hero’s show, Charlie Brown confides that he is suffering an episode of Christmas depression – despite all the holiday hoopla surrounding him.
You’ve likely seen the Pinterest boards of cutesy crafts meant to guilt all new moms into celebrating BABY’S FIRST CHRISTMAS! It’s a major milestone for our little ones. But some are facing their first holiday season as a family in the isolation of the hospital.
And despite the best efforts of the nurses in their teddy bear scrubs and Santa hats, the stark reality is the scent of evergreen pine is replaced by the stinging smell of alcohol in the festively green Aloe infused anti-microbial hand sanitizer. And the bright cheer of red and white Christmas lights are replaced with the fear of white and red blinking alarms above the isolette beds.
We were lucky enough to spend our first Christmas at home and healthy – ours was the great NICU summer of 2010. But just because a tiny one is confined to the hospital doesn’t stop a preemie family from celebrating their little miracle.
So our million dollar miracle muppets – the ex-27-weeker NICU grads of 2010 – accompanied Jon and me as we brought gift bags of candy canes, chocolates and teddy bears, along with Chapstick and Purell (staples in these families scary new world) to this year’s miracles.
“Welcome to the world little fighter. May your holiday season be merry and bright. And only the first of so many more to come.”
At the Christmas tree lot, Charlie Brown finds the perfect tiny tree (interestingly enough, the only real tree on the lot of giant aluminum show pieces). Charlie is convinced that tiny tree is perfect for their Christmas production.
Prematurity becomes our new normal. And although the tiny babes are not healthy enough to go home for the traditional familial show off, they are perfect. Unfinished, they are beautiful.
Later, Charlie adds a single ornamental ball to decorate his little tree. The branch immediately falls over – prompting Charlie to cry out, “I’ve killed it!”
But all preemie parents are constantly reminded – it’s a dance of two steps forward, and one step back. We celebrate the little milestones: a single breath, a sip of milk, a tiny mewling cry.
And this shall be a sign unto you: Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace and goodwill towards men.'”
That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.