Dave Micus, Plum Island Sound

December 26th, 2005

The Christmas Gift
By Dave Micus

I was asked last week by Deanna to provide a Christmas memory, and I'm afraid that Christmas brings out the procrastinator in me, be it shopping or penning stories. So please forgive this post-Christmas Christmas story. I have no excuse; in fact, it is extremely easy for me to conjure up images of my best Christmas. It was December 25, 1986. My son, Jimmy, came home from the hospital that day, having been born the day before. How could one ever imagine a better Christmas present than that?

We had been going through even more anticipation and concern than usual with the birth of a child; Jimmy was supposed to join us around Thanksgiving, but, always one for the dramatic, he waited four weeks to be a Christmas baby instead. It was worth the wait.

I'm not one who experiences vivid memories, but his birth is as fresh in my mind as if it had occurred yesterday - the green delivery room, the bustle of the white-clad medical personnel, and my wife, looking pained but radiant. The labor was difficult, and the anxiety in the room was palpable when, with each contraction, we could see and hear Jim's heart rate drop on the beeping monitor. The doctor, a large but gentle man, took charge. He softly encouraged Sue while marshalling the nurses, preparing to do all that he could to assure that this child would arrive safely in this world. While all of this was going on I was shuffled to the periphery, feeling helpless.

There was a sudden burst of activity at the bedside, the doctor moved quickly, and in a moment he was holding my newborn son up in his huge hands. Jim was motionless at first, but then opened his eyes and scanned the room with a gaze that seemed to assert he was somehow wiser than us all. And at that moment, having just come from heaven, he was. His pigmentation, starting from the top of his head and working down to the tip of his toes, changed before my eyes from a pale, bluish tinge to a healthy pink, and it would have been less amazing to me to if lightning had flashed through the window and brought this child to life. I was dazzled.

"Is the father all right?" a nurse asked me, seeing the astonished look on my face and thinking I was on the verge of collapsing. I tried to answer but couldn't talk; there were no words to describe the miracle I had witnessed. I could only stare at Jim, who was now in his mother's arms.

I went home that evening euphoric, and, with a good friend, went out to buy a Christmas tree (we had not yet done any shopping or decorating, all of our attention for the past four weeks being focused on the upcoming birth). It being late Christmas Eve, no places were open, but we did find unsold trees piled by a dumpster, and took what to this day I consider our best Christmas tree ever. We drank champagne and decorated the tree, trying to give Jim and his mother a Christmas as good as the one they gave me, though that would not be possible. The following day they came home to a house appropriately decorated for both his birth and the birth of a Savior. (When he was three I told him the best Christmas present I ever received was when he came home from the hospital on Christmas day. "Why was I in the hospital?" he asked, which was something I hadn't anticipated. "Well," I tried to explain, "when you were real little you were inside momma's belly, but then you got too big so we had to go to the hospital to take you out." Much to my surprise, he went back to playing with his toys. "Do you understand?" I asked. "Yea, just like a kangaroo," he replied.)

Jim turned 19 this Christmas Eve. He graduated from high school with honors, and is now a straight A student at the Massachusetts Maritime Academy, looking forward to a career on the ocean, which he loves (wonder where he got that?). And though he is a man now, when I look at him, especially this time of year, I still see the small baby who delayed his entry into this world by four weeks to give his parents the greatest Christmas present they could ever receive. ~ Dave

About Dave:

Dave Micus lives in Ipswich, Massachusetts. He is an avid striped bass fly fisherman, writer and instructor. He writes a fly fishing column for the Port City Planet newspaper of Newburyport, MA (home of Plum Island and Joppa Flats) and teaches a fly fishing course at Boston University.


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