This Holiday was our first with our new daughter. Seeing the magic of the season reflected in her eyes truly brought back the joy and innocence that had long been petrified by creeping commercial cynicism.
Our first Christmas was one to remember. Permanently woven into the tapestry of our family, we’ll never forget when she grabbed an ornament with the strength of a meth-addicted primate, and nearly brought the in-law’s tree crashing down. And, of course, there was the Christmas miracle when we were certain she was lost until we found that she had simply rolled under the couch. And when we were trying to get our 6-month-old to sleep after an evening of Holiday stimulation, we couldn’t help but to feel the same disorientation that the animals must have felt, lo those many years ago when Mary wrapped her child in swaddling clothing and placed Him in the manger from which they fed: “Um, there’s a baby in our hay. So, we’ll just eat around it then?”
Up until Christmas, all of our relatives asked the same question: “What does the little girl want for Christmas?” Based on her behavior, my best guess was to be able to eat her own foot, but that’s what she wants every day.
Not only do I not know what a 6-month-old wants for Christmas, I don’t even know what I want in order to take care of her. Back when we first learned we were pregnant, my wife had a baby shower. Instead of registering for 4000 cubic feet of diapers like we should have, we registered for all kinds of other stuff; stuff we rarely use.
For instance, I wanted the little turtle that told the temperature of the water while it playfully floated around the tub. A responsible parent should know the temperature of his child’s bath, right? As it turns out, my hand has worked just fine. I also wanted the chicken puppet washcloth; the washcloth that’s also a fun chicken puppet. The first time I tried to use it, however, I found it morally reprehensible to potentially traumatize my daughter by bathing her with a dripping chicken.
We also have lots of cute outfits and accessories, but usually opt for a sleeper. I mean, who is she trying to impress, me? The guy who changes her diapers? Plus, isn’t wearing a tiny Forever Lazy all day one of the perks of being a baby?
It’s for this reason that, instead of trusting my instincts, I decided to consult the University of the Internet for some baby gift advice. I learned that when you look for baby advice on the Internet, you are standing on the edge of the rabbit hole; before you follow it, you need to decide how far you want to go. There is no end; only madness. For instance, one day I found scientific proof that delaying solids helped prevent food allergies, and also that delaying solids caused food allergies. I just looked at my wife and shrugged.
And according to the Internet, based on a lot of the gifts that my 6-month-old would love, she really should be sitting up by now. She likes standing (obviously with help), but she doesn’t care for sitting. She also likes dramatically heaving herself around on the floor, but sitting isn’t her style. I know that, at some point, this will work itself out; she’s not going to be the girl in 1st Grade who doesn’t know how to sit. But the Internet says that she should be sitting.
In her defense, some of these toys seem pretty advanced. For someone who loves to eat paper, she might miss the artistic nuance of the Baby Da Vinci Object Permanence Owl.
As it turns out, the gifts she received from her family were perfect. But I think they’ll forgive me when I say: I think the greatest gift of all was simply our first Christmas with our new daughter. She is goodwill. She is peace. Especially when she finally went to sleep at 3 a.m.