- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 5, 2003

The Little Viking experienced his first Christmas a couple of weeks ago and he loved it.

Not because of the gifts he received which were few and far between but for the lights, the bright colors, the people, the late nights and, of course, the wrapping paper.

A 7-month-old is delightfully uninterested in acquiring new toys. But the wrapping paper in which they arrive, that's a different story. Within reason and caution, the Little Viking played with the assorted Santa- and reindeer-adorned paper.

He tore and twisted it and, of course, put it in his mouth, which is when his parents diverted his attention toward the green plastic wrench a great chew toy or the stackable cups, always dependable attention-grabbers.

The gift-giving, though, was a tiny portion of our Christmas. It began with the tree about a month ago, that Friday when the snow wouldn't stop falling. The tree came in with snow on its branches, which quickly melted and was replaced by hundreds of lights and dozens of balls and bells and "Baby's First Christmas" ornaments. Frankly, those ornaments seemed a bit cheesy, but in years to come, they surely will remind us of the Little Viking's first, very magical Christmas.

The tree, packed with colorful lights and ornaments, looked like a 7-foot toy but of course, safety first. The Little Viking was allowed only to look, and not touch, as pine needles are not a child's best friend. Just looking seemed to hold the Little Viking's attention pretty well, as he was mesmerized by the hundreds of lights.

He also had his picture taken with Santa, without a shedding a tear or leaning over to put in his wish-list requests (mostly because he doesn't have the skills it takes, including talking), surely the first and only time in his childhood when those things won't happen. It's interesting; the Little Viking knows neither fear nor greed. How refreshing that is.

People also were an important part of the Little Viking's first Christmas. At church on Christmas Eve, he met and greeted dozens of children and their parents and behaved remarkably well, partly because we had remembered to bring some favorite toys and a bottle or two.

There also was much to see and hear at church that day, including storytelling and singing. At the very end of the rector's solo performance of "Gesu Bambino," by Pietro A. Yon, the Little Viking decided it was time to let everyone know he was, indeed, present. He loudly and clearly hit the exact note on which the rector had ended her song, and he held it until some heads were turned and friendly smiles given.

He must have learned from Chet Baker, the Little Viking's favorite performer and the only one who can help lull our 7-month-old bundle of energy to sleep when he's restless and cranky.

Hence the unusual, but really quite natural, gift selection for our little guy: "The Definitive Chet Baker." It was an instantaneous hit. Particularly "Little Man You've Had a Busy Day," which certainly held true for the Little Viking every day of Christmas week.

There were places to go and people to see; there was food to grab, hair to pull and cuddlesomeness to be had every night of the week. People talked and laughed, listened to cheerful music and, yes, gave each other colorful packages, which produced those crinkling, malleable "toys" enough to keep any baby happy.

The Little Viking seemed to thrive on all the activity, crying fewer tears than normal, until he was asked to sleep. So, the otherwise strict sleep schedule we have employed what has become known among our friends as the Ferber method (to those not initiated, it's when you start teaching the baby how to go to sleep on his own, even if it involves a few tears) was abandoned, and late hours were allowed.

This led to a happy, curious, night-owl baby and happy, tired parents. But Christmas only rolls around once a year, and a baby's first Christmas only comes around once.

We tried to capture many of his firsts on camera, to enjoy in years to come because this was, by far, the most blessed Christmas for the Little Viking's parents. He showed and reminded us of the importance of merriment, thankfulness and amazement. Can you think of a more rewarding gift?

Gabriella Boston is a features writer for The Washington Times. She and her husband welcomed their "Little Viking" in May. Send e-mail to [email protected]


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