Ian PostcardBefore Christmas, our family had another important birthday to celebrate – grandson Ian’s 8th birthday. This is only the third birthday we’ve celebrated with him. Ian was born December 23 and was abandoned two days later, on Christmas Day, in the hospital where he was born in northern China. After four years in foster care, Ian was adopted by our daughter and her husband while they lived in Shanghai.

Candles on a birthday cake aren’t easy for Ian to blow out because he was born with a significant cleft in his upper palate and gum line. He is undoubtedly one of the world’s best medical patients. His resilience is remarkable as he continues to recover from a bone transplant in early December, a step in repairing the gum line cleft. On a soft diet for the foreseeable future, this kiddo is generally good-natured about it, especially during this festive holiday season of snowball cookies, gingerbread houses, savory hams, and Happy Birthday Jesus cakes. An ice cream birthday cake was a happy alternative, especially when Ian was able to blow out five of the eight candles, an impossibility three years ago. 

Gifted with fine motor coordination and a long attention span, Ian has been taking apart old computers and assorted appliances for several years. The grandparents, aunts and uncles conspired this year to gift him with things to put together, rather than take apart. At the top of the list was an Erector set motorized car which required the attentiveness of four generations of adult males – a grandfather, a father, an uncle and a cousin, to help birth this impressive vehicle over three days hunched over a low kid-sized table in Ian’s bedroom. Larger, more comfortable “birthing stools” migrated upstairs as the project worn on. 

Nate PostcardBut there was more birthing afoot with Ian’s brother Nate who wanted me to teach him how to sew. We explored the wizard costume he wanted to make, but scuttled that idea when we realized the five yards of fabric was going to cost more than the online costume made in China. We settled on a simple pillowcase with lots of straight lines and a clever construction method for the contrasting cuff. Off we went to Joann’s where Nate took off on his own searching for just the right fabrics. I was impressed with the color scheme and pattern scale of his choices sans any help from me. But not totally surprised as Nate spends considerable time, when not relaxing, drawing very skilled animation figures with nuanced body language and perspective. Nate was also an adept student moving from saying, “I can’t do that” to “I’m learning something new!”  

While both the boys ended the year by “birthing” new skills, most of us think about the beginning New Year and its “holy birthing” opportunities. Like Ian blowing out candles, is there something that you haven’t been able to do that you’ll be able to do in the new year? Like Nate, is there something you’ve said you can’t do, but soon you’ll be able to say you’re learning something new. What new birth will happen in your life? Perhaps…because of the birth of the Holy One?

Sir Walter Scott once wrote “Each age has deemed the new-born year the fittest time for festal cheer.”

Happy New Year!

Oh yes, the name postcards above were doodled and painted on the airplane flying between NC and CA. A great way to make a long flight seem short.

5 comments to Birth

  • Kate Larsen

    Kids’ resiliency and adaptability is incredible. You have shown it with this wonderful story. How nicely you honor both boys and their accomplishments.

  • Pat Alexander

    What a blessing to start the new year! We should all be asking ourselves what new birth is happening in our lives, not to mention “What new something am I learning?” Thanks so much for sharing this, Lynn.

  • Deanna Bowling

    I feel like I have had several opportunities in my life to come from being a catepillar to a butterfly. I am going through one of those time periods again as I write this. I wonder what kind of butterfly I will eventually be this time, though meanwhile as a catepiller am still wary about being crunched underfoot by some misguided traveler.

  • Deanna Bowling

    That misguided traveler is often myself. Figure out that one ???? heh, heh, heh.

  • You, and this story is truly inspiring! Happy New Year.

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