Saturday, December 19, 2009

Joy to the World

Christmas Carols were huge in my family growing up. Every Christmas Eve, we would have a huge party with all of our extended family, and after dinner, when all the guys had escaped into another room, all the women (and a token husband or two) would gather around and sing carols together.They were fancy singers, lots of harmonies and things like that. All the big, popular songs, and some that I've never heard sung anywhere else, like one about a snowman who gives up his life to save a family from a housefire. That one always made me cry.

I can remember being really small and sitting on the stairs, peering through the banister and watching, and then another year playing along on a xylophone in a particularly talented way (or so I thought...the carolers may have probably disagreed). As I got older, I joined in singing with everyone, and then my cousins taught me to sing harmony by teaching me this little three line song that ends in "joy to ma-a-a-an." It still gets stuck in my head all the time.

The point is, we are a family who loves Christmas carols. I grew up on them, and sometimes it just doesn't feel like Christmas anymore when I'm not spending the night before around a table with my mom and all of my cousins and aunts and listening and singing along with the awesome acappella singing of my grandmother and her three sisters. When I was young, my great grandmother would sit at the head of the table, just listening to everyone sing. Funnily enough, she couldn't carry a tune in a bucket, but she loved listening to the music.

Once, at a family reunion during the summer I was fifteen, one night was spent sitting outside singing. I may be remembering it wrong, but I could swear that even then, some Christmas carols were sung.

My kids, although they haven't had the benefit of growing up spending Christmases the way I did, have definitely inherited our love of singing. Christmas carols seem to be right up their on Ava's list, too, as she's woken me up every morning this week belting "Hark the Herald Angels Sing." Every year, the kids participate in our churches Christmas show, where all the preschool and elementary kids are basically herded up on stage and we all cross our fingers and hope for the best. For the record, "best" usually means that at least half the kids sing, most of them do the moves, and no one falls of the stage or burns themselves on the lights. Last year, Jace burnt himself on the lights. But they're adorable and everyone loves watching them every year.

Today was the rehearsal for tomorrow's show, and I sat off to the side while the kids practiced with Evany in the bassinet and Seth on my lap. He was very cuddly today, sitting facing me and patting my back at regular intervals.

Suddenly, the kids started a version of "Joy to the World" that sounded vaguely like a Glee mashup, and suddenly, Seth sat straight up and looked around. Then his face just lit up and he started swaying back and forth and bopping along with the music, holding my hands and making me clap. I was laughing and swaying with him, when suddenly it hit me.

Seth was hearing Christmas carols for the first time.

This time last year, Seth couldn't hear anything. He's never heard a Christmas carol, never been cheered up against his will by a particular song. While I've known that he's loved music since his activation, something about Seth hearing his first carol and responding automatically hit me in a way I haven't felt in a while and I started to tear up, and the enormity of it all hit me all over again.

This Boy;


This baby  toddler who I thought would never hear me read him a book, tell him I love you, yell at him for misbehaving...he was given a huge gift almost nine months ago. We prayed for a miracle, for a cure, but instead God gave us very specific opportunities to help Seth. He left clear signs for us to follow about the right things to do for Seth. When I thought it wasn't my place to "choose" CI's for Seth, he put people who had gone before us in our path. When I wasn't sure about which surgeon to go with, we walked in the door and saw Seth's personal verse emblazoned on the wall of the center of the surgeon we were leaning towards. When our insurance company wouldn't cover bilateral CI's, John's company suddenly changed to an insurance company that covered bilaterals. When that insurance company said that Seth was too young to do the surgery when we wanted it,  our surgeon had the denial overturned in 24 hours. While we were told to have low expectations at activation, that many babies don't start responding for weeks or a month, Seth made the entire journey worthwhile when I called his name and he smiled and turned his head towards me.

We didn't get the kind of miracle you read about in the bible, the one that happens overnight and is some unbelievable immediate healing, but looking back at all the times our way was paved for us before we even knew we were going in that direction makes it clear to was a miracle all the same. My son can hear. And I could not care less that he needs some equipment to do it.


And I have a feeling he is going to love Christmas carols just as much as everyone else in our family.
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