13. Christmas Eve Dinner Plus One

13. Christmas Eve Dinner Plus One

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Merry Christmas!

Christmas Eve Dinner Plus One

Good news from heaven the angels bring, Glad tidings to the earth they sing: To us this day a child is given, To crown us with the joy of heaven.

~Martin Luther

There was the usual hustle and bustle of the Christmas season: the shopping, the decorating, and the planning of the day we would celebrate the birth of our savior. My daughter Francesca and I had spent Christmas Eve day in the kitchen preparing a sumptuous dinner to share with family and friends before heading to a midnight candlelight service.

We were tired, but excited about the evening, sharing the fruits of our cooking, and the gifts that lay beautifully wrapped and waiting to be opened and enjoyed. Little did we know that we would receive a gift far greater than any found under the tree.

We had both gone to shower and dress. I was sitting at my dressing table blow-drying my hair when I found Francesca beside me pointing at a stick at me. Blind as a bat without my glasses, I put them on to find that the stick was a home pregnancy test.

“Mom, look what it says.”

Looking at the plus sign in the little window I looked up at her and said,

“Is it the dog’s?”

“MOM!”

Now, I know this might sound strange, but my daughter had been fighting anorexia for ten years and in the last year had chosen to use medication to combat this disease. It was helping. So Francesca and her husband Richard began trying to have a baby. Nothing happened. They both went to get checked out. Richard’s sperm were strong and virile, but the eating disorder had severely depleted Francesca’s estrogen stores. She began a series of drugs to increase her estrogen levels, but other than mood swings, swollen injection sites and mounting debt, only temporarily higher levels of estrogen were present and never long enough for pregnancy to be achieved. Doctors told them she would probably never get pregnant and to think about adoption or surrogacy. They had decided to accept the doctors’ diagnosis and once they paid off their debt would begin to put away money to adopt.

Through all of this I had thanked God that my daughter was finally physically healthy. Having a grandchild would be nice but I could survive without being a nana. Losing my own child to an eating disorder was something I did not know how to survive. Also, my husband Thad and I had at one time discussed adopting a child ourselves, so I knew that we could give as much love to an adopted grandchild as to a biological one. I looked forward to watching this time in their lives unfold.

“Mom, are you listening? I think I am pregnant!” my daughter said, bringing me back to present day.

“What made you take the test?” I asked.

“You know how tender my breasts have been. Even though everyone said it was because I was finally getting back to a healthy state, I found the test kit in the bottom of my make-up bag and decided to use it.” Francesca stopped talking to catch her breath.

“Francesca, we need to make sure it’s accurate.”

Bless my husband for he went out and bought not one, but three more home pregnancy kits (the true scientist that he is). Each one showed a very clear and pregnant + sign!

Once we were done cheering, hugging, and thanking God, we decided that we would place one of the test sticks in a jewelry box and wrap it with Christmas paper and ribbon. Francesca would present it to Richard as an early Christmas gift.

Richard was out playing golf with his dad but he should be the first to know!

It was the longest hour of our lives before Richard finally came home, tired and sweaty from his golf game. He was off to take a shower. A shower! No way! Francesca presented him with the gift and asked him to open it immediately. He stated that he would wait until Christmas Day! Francesca assured him that this was a very special gift and he would want it now. He opened it, looked at the test stick and said, “Is this the dog’s?”

“NO… IT’S ME! Why can’t anyone believe I am pregnant?” my daughter asked.

It was a most joyous Christmas Eve and the best Christmas gift I think any of us have ever received.

~Loretta D. Schoen

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