What happened to us on Christmas Eve, 1985, can never be topped. For my husband's and my family, it was definitely the best holiday ever.
Tuesday morning, December 24, 1985, I was busy getting our tiny four-room apartment ready for our annual family Christmas Eve celebration. Looking back, it is really amazing that so many people could fit into that little place.
I had just begun my Christmas vacation from my first grade teaching position at St. Joseph School. That previous Friday, I had my first graders put on their annual Christmas Nativity play, which always filled me more fully with the Christmas spirit.
That Tuesday, my husband Frank had started a new job. I wasn't sure I even had his new phone number. As I began cleaning, putting the last decorations on the tree, and finishing up some of the hors d'oeuvres (spinach balls, dates in bacon, cheese dip, etc.), I was suddenly jolted out of my holiday preparations.
What to do? Who to call? Of course, I had to call someone who had the answer: my mother, Doris Kanabis. I made the call, and she gave the right advice: She and Dad would come pick me up and drive me to L&M Hospital, where I heard the rather surprising news that I was in labor. (I wasn't due until January 5th.)
Well, I still had a lot of things to do! I convinced everyone at the hospital that I would come back when absolutely necessary, and they respectfully let me go back home. Once home, I eventually got ahold of my husband by phone and told him to start back early.
OK, I thought. Next on my to-do list was to find someone to carry Frank's big Christmas present (a new bike) up from the basement. His bigger present, meanwhile, continued kicking. Then the food had to be wrapped and sent to my parents. My husband made it home. Excitement was in the air.
Around 1:30 p.m., Frank and I decided that it was time to go back to L&M. Later, he told me how polite I was in labor. Nurses were in the middle of rotation (after all, everyone wanted to leave — it was Christmas Eve). Our families were anxiously awaiting our newest member's arrival.
I remember my mom said she was lighting a candle and saying a prayer at The Children's Mass when our own Christmas miracle occurred. At 4:35, our Christmas gift, Katie Rebecca, arrived. Thank you, Dr. Spitz.
All that exciting evening, family and friends visited to come and get a peek at our beautiful little girl. Holding her tiny body in my arms, I knew my life had changed forever, for the better.
I've told my daughter, who now lives in Boston, and who turns 25 this Christmas Eve, that she was and will always be the best Christmas present we've ever received.
Our annual family Christmas Eve celebration continues to this day, except that now we begin the party with a rendition of "Happy Birthday, Katie," and a birthday cake before the Christmas festivities begin.