The 12 Years of Christmas

This post first appeared on Beetles in the Bush on Christmas Day last year.  One year has passed, but the sentiment remains stronger than ever.  I reprint it here as BitB‘s first evergreen post. Merry Christmas!

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Merry Christmas - from our backyard to yours!

They came from completely different backgrounds. She had grown up in a middle class family, her father an educated professional, her mother a professional homemaker – “Ward and June”, as their now-grown children jokingly call them. He grew up on welfare, the family breaking up while he was still in elementary school. She was a popular student – cheerleader, debate team, gymnastics. He was the introverted science nerd, invisible to the popular, living quietly with his books. Religion was an important part of her life, growing up Catholic and remaining devoted to the church. He grew up Catholic but knew even as a child that religion would not provide the answers he was looking for, eventually finding a private spirituality in the Creation itself.

Despite these separate paths they found each other and fell in love, and despite their different lives they both wanted the same thing – a family. Such a simple desire, however, would prove to be difficult to achieve. When fertility drugs didn’t work, they turned to adoption. The first match failed. So did the second. They understood completely how the birth mothers could change their minds, but that didn’t ease their pain or calm their fears. Ultimately, they looked to Russia, a new democracy with old attitudes about orphans. In the fall of their 6th year of marriage, they learned that little Anastasia was waiting for them. They traveled to Russia before Christmas and became a family after New Years. In between, they visited little Anastasia every day – one hour at a time – and experienced the joy of being a parent, a feeling they had feared would ever elude them. On Christmas Day, they could not see little Anastasia, but in a small, gray apartment on the outskirts of Moscow, they celebrated her coming with their gracious host family. Ten days later, their family was born, and twelve months later they celebrated their first Christmas together at home.

Christmas meant little to me for much of my life. Yes, it was a time to relax and enjoy the company of family and friends, and the presents were nice. But my own approach to spirituality has little in common with traditional reflections of the season. Tonight, as I watched 12-year old Mollie Anastasia laughing with her cousins, hugging her nanny and papa, and teasing her uncle and his partner, I thought back to those cold, snowy days in Russia when my heart became warm for the first time. I recalled our second trip to Russia six years later, when she and little Madison Irina each met their sister for the first time. On this Christmas Day, as I have done for 12 years now, I thought about how lucky we are to have these two beautiful little girls that are unquestionably our own. Christmas means a lot to me now, and that is a gift that not even five golden rings could beat.

Copyright © Ted C. MacRae 2009

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About Ted C. MacRae

Ted C. MacRae is a research entomologist by vocation and beetle taxonomist by avocation. Areas of expertise in the latter include worldwide jewel beetles (Buprestidae) and North American longhorned beetles (Cerambycidae). More recent work has focused on North American tiger beetles (Cicindelidae) and their distribution, ecology, and conservation.
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18 Responses to The 12 Years of Christmas

  1. Sally says:

    What a lovely story, Ted! And a great birthday/anniversary for your family.

    This holiday is indeed about children… “Ours” (my nieces) are grown now, and traditions evolve. Glad you’re enjoying yours so much.

  2. A great story and so very suitable for the season. Best wishes to you and your family this Christmas time and for the new year.

  3. Kathie Lia says:

    I didn’t see this posting last year, so I am really glad you reprinted it this year. I remember how much we missed you that Christmas, but knew that in a short time we’d have even more reason to celebrate, so it was worth the short-lived separation! And just think 13 years later how much more we have to celebrate.

  4. A sweet and heartfelt post, thank you for sharing.
    Despite our efforts we’ve not been blessed with children of our own, but we are lucky to be able to enjoy sharing the holidays with our young nephews (5 under the age of three, and one more on the way!) They do add something special to the Christmas season.
    Best wishes to you and yours.

    • Hi TGIQ—my sincerest hopes for you and your SO in your efforts to start a family. Children are the most unpredictable, frustrating, expensive responsibility I’ve ever signed up for—and I wouldn’t have it any other way!

  5. jason says:

    Wow… That is a wonderful celebration of Christmas–for all the right reasons. You can share this year after year and it’ll always be new and vibrant as when the world was young. What a beautiful holiday this creates! Thank you!

  6. Ted, I’m so glad that you and your wife realized your dream of having a family. I have experienced the wonder that is parenthood, and there is no love like it. Wonderful Christmas post.

  7. Rod Rood says:

    Ted
    The gift of giving! As poignant a story as can be for the season and for you and your wife-forever! We cherish so much and there is always hope through the next generation-the children! Three grands now in my life to rough-up!
    Happy Beetling in 2010!
    Seasons Greetings!
    -r

    • Thanks, Rod. Ah, grandkids – a joy I don’t yet know but look forward to immensely whenever I watch my father with these two beautiful girls.

      Happy Holidays to you and yours as well.

  8. Henry W. Robison says:

    Wow! What a powerful story of love and devotion. You and your wife are indeed lucky people Ted, and so are we all for you providing this beautiful story! Christmas does indeed have a more special meaning to me this year after reading your story as I look at my own family and realize how lucky I truly am to have them all.

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year Ted!

  9. Seabrooke says:

    Such a touching story, Ted, as much this year as it was last. My best friend is struggling with infertility; they’ve been trying for nearly three years now. She got pregnant once, but miscarried before two months. The barrage of tests they’ve had done have so far shown nothing unusual. From being a close observer to her ordeal, I know how frustrating, disappointing and stressful it is. I’m glad you’ve found such love and satisfaction with your two adopted daughters. Wishing you and your family much happiness and discovery in the new year.

    • Thank you, Seabrooke. Our girls have been the biggest joy in my life – and the biggest reason why I don’t get as much done in other areas as I would like. I know their time with us is fleeting before they strike off on their own, so I never turn down their requests when one of them wants to sit on my lap when I could be working on something else. In the meantime, I’m building up a nice, big, backlog of specimens to curate after they leave🙂

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