Robert’s First Christmas – A Day of Mixed Fortunes

I feel really bad that Robert did not get any presents for his first Christmas, I guess we were too caught up in buying his day to day stuff, and did not have time to buy something specific for him to open on this day. At one point I had elaborate plans to knit him a Christmas hat, or make up a handmade present for him, but somehow these never materialized. I promise that I will work to remedy this situation during the coming year, and make sure he has a full stocking and lots of presents next time. My excuse this year, is that he is too young to know any better.
Mom and Dad got nice presents; mom received something that she always enjoys… chocolate and sweets, while dad got an interesting book. Robert got to play with the wrapping paper, which caused him tremendous excitement and total over-stimulation.

I planned a visit to my work today with Robert. I figured it was a holiday and there won’t be many people about, in there won’t be a lot of work load on the floor, so Robert will not distract people too much, and won’t be overwhelmed with the noise and activity either. I was mistaken.

I carried him up in a quiet elevator to a very quiet building. Only a handful of people were working on the floor, but somehow he did not feel comfortable. He started crying soon after we arrived, with ear-piercing, panicky sobs. I tried to calm him down in the common area, without success. Women from the Israeli sales team came to see what is happening, one of them carried Robert and sang to him in Hebrew, and amazingly he calmed down for a minute or so before starting his tearful cries again.

I tried taking him out to the atrium, big mistake, his cries magnified and echoed and caused even more people to come and investigate. I never thought so many people would be working on Christmas day! Some people looked at me accusingly; others came with helpfully meant but useless advice: Give him his bottle; give him water; he is hot. Finally I retreated to the ladies bathroom. I thought it was a small space he could relate too, rather than the impersonal huge expanse of offices. It did not help much, and the only way was to get the heck out of there. Ron came to the rescue as soon as I phoned, and we deposited a panic-stricken Robert into his car seat. Ron spoke to him softly, but he still had wild eyes. He only calmed down to the rumble of the engine as we drove away from this dreadful place.

I still do not know what set him off, but I imagine it was too much of a change in his routine. When we usually take him out he is in the baby carrier, this time I carried him up, so he was outside the space he is accustomed to. Besides the environment was quiet and a little gloomy, different from the bright and noisy environment of our place or the shopping malls we are used to.

We drove to Sea Point promenade and walked around the Sea Point swimming pool. The day was cloudy with some fresh wind, but the pool was very busy. At this point it looked like our plans for a barbeque will go to naught, it was threatening to rain. Robert was quiet on our walk; it was an environment he is used to. There was even a group of Chinese tourists who fussed over him, the girls said he was cute, and a man took a photo of him in the carrier, and through all that Robert was his regal self, quiet and aloof, and watching the world go by with restrained interest. I had dressed him in his green and red ‘monster’ outfit, to honour the colours of Christmas, but during our walk the weather turned ominous again, and he was underdressed for the cold, so we had to head back.

At home Ron was faced with the problem of lighting the braai. Because of the unclear weather, Ron started the barbeque in a non-ideal location, on our covered balcony.

I might have swayed him into making this decision, which turned out into a near disaster. Poor Ron spent the afternoon battling the smoke which kept blowing into his face and eyes. To make matters worse, the pork ribs we bough were very fatty and turned black on the coals, poor Ron had to scrape them once they were done.

All through that I was entertaining Robert, I held him next to the window for some time to watch his dad preparing a feast that was not going very well. Miraculously, however, things turned out well in the end. Minutes before the meat was cooked, Robert settled for an afternoon nap, and Ron and I had one of our very rare leisurely meals. We enjoyed nibbling on pork ribs, beef short ribs, sausages with sweet potatoes and mashed pumpkin. The meal was accompanied by a wonderful red wine.

It was perhaps the only quiet afternoon we had on our balcony this year. Everyone was enjoying grits somewhere, and no cars on the road. It added so much to our enjoyment of the day. Mom and dad did get a special Christmas after all.