Charbel’s First Christmas

Ever since we first got engaged, Eddy and I began looking forward with delightful anticipation, to the first time we would celebrate Christmas together with our first son or daughter. Christmas this year, with our little Charbel, fulfilled and surpassed our expectations. It wasn’t quite as we had planned it… after a busy year and our recent move to Iraq, we were exhausted and imagined spending Christmas week quietly together, enjoying being settled into our new home, having time to just be with each other, catch up on some much needed rest and get over the annual winter flu we all caught.

Plans changed unexpectedly when we found out that Eddy needed to go to Lebanon to renew his passport sooner than we had realized. So, we stopped imagining a quiet, lazy Christmas, and began packing our bags for Lebanon.

We made arrangements with the help of Eddy’s sister to keep the visit a surprise from his parents until the moment we arrived. Our efforts were well rewarded – Grandma and Grandpa Mady were thrilled and nearly speechless the moment they opened the door and saw their 11 month old grandson, gurgling and waving at them.   Christmas was wonderful.  It was the first time in several years that all of Eddy’s family was together for the holiday, and the first time ever that I was there celebrating it with them.  We spent ten days visiting family and friends, and reminiscing about the Christmas we had spent together in Lebanon two years ago, shortly after becoming engaged.

And, as expected, watching little Charbel enjoy his first Christmas was unspeakably delightful. A cuddly little fellow, well aware of his own cuteness, he spent the days being passed around from lap to lap, crawling around the center of the room, impressing everyone with his new sounds and the simple words he is adding to his vocabulary, and practicing how to keep his balance while taking his first steps. He can’t walk unaided yet, but he has quite mastered how to walk sideways around couches or other pieces of furniture he can hold onto. He isn’t old enough to really understand what was going on, but he could definitely tell that Christmas was something to be excited and And, as expected, watching little Charbel enjoy his first Christmas was unspeakably delightful. A cuddly little fellow, well aware of his own cuteness, he spent the days being passed around from lap to lap, crawling around the center of the room, impressing everyone with his new sounds and the simple words he is adding to his vocabulary, and practicing how to keep his balance while taking his first steps. He can’t walk unaided yet, but he has quite mastered how to walk sideways around couches or other pieces of furniture he can hold onto. He isn’t old enough to really understand what was going on, but he could definitely tell that Christmas was something to be excited and happy about, and he loved helping to tear the wrapping paper off his gifts and playing with his new toys. It must also be admitted that he enjoyed being the older of the two grandchildren, having been born six months before his little cousin, and took advantage of his greater mobility and motor skills to grab envied objects from the unsuspecting Joe. He also burst into a scream the first time Eddy put him down and picked up little Joe. Over a day or two, though, he adjusted well, tolerated sharing our attention, and got along quite well with his little playmate. Eddy and I were glad he had the experience as a prelude for next month, when his little brother will make his arrival!

A few days after Christmas, it was time to say the hard goodbyes, turn around, and board another plane (with Eddy’s new passport in hand!), in time to have a day or two of rest and herald in the New Year back home in Iraq, before needing to report back to work two days ago. Goodbyes are something I have always hated – I like think that Heaven will be a place where the concept of “farewell” will fall into oblivion. Luckily, however, even here on earth, goodbyes are always followed by hellos, and hard as it was to leave Lebanon, and all our friends and family there, we also greatly enjoyed arriving back in our own home and exchanging belated Christmas greetings with everyone here in Iraq.

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