Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Chris [krĭs]

-noun (proper)
1. a male given name, form of Christopher (Greek Christ-bearer).

2. firstborn son of Dan and Linda.
3. child with seemingly unlimited energy.
4. teen-ager able to charm his way into or out of almost any situation.
5. faithful, loving and mature husband to Kelsey.
6. devoted father to Sweetpea.

After several years of marriage, Dan and I were ready to start our family. I was a little bit impatient, thinking that once our decision had been made, it should happen immediately. But several long months crept by before I became pregnant. (Looking back, I realize that it was actually a brief wait, but at the time it seemed so long.) We were living in Juneau, then. I clearly remember one cold, winter night, during this time, when I was out on a trail near the airport, on my cross-country skis. I stood out there, all alone in the darkness, with the snow reflecting the moonlight, and prayed my heart out that God would bless us with a baby.

And He did.

Chris was born March 19, 1973, in the Bartlett Regional Hospital, which had opened its doors less than two years earlier. Dan and I had taken Lamaze classes in preparation for the birth, and Dan was by my side, coaching me throughout the entire labor, and taking notes on each contraction and the progress of the labor. He was not the very first, but one of the first fathers allowed into the delivery room at Bartlett, so was there to celebrate with me the doctor's pronouncement, "It's a boy! A BIG boy." Christopher Russell was the name we both agreed on for our 9 pound baby boy. Had the baby been a girl, we were considering either Erin or Megan.

Because he was our only child for those first three years, it was easy to continue our spontaneous lifestyle - picking up and going here or there at the drop of a hat. Chris was really adaptable, and seemed to enjoy this busy way of life. He had no problem going down for naps on a pallet on the floor at any home we were visiting.

Some of my favorite memories are the times I strapped Chris into the child seat, on the back of my bicycle, and rode with him to our favorite wild blueberry picking spot. Chris would pluck berries down low, while I picked up high; I remember listening for the "plink plink" sound of berries landing in his pail, which was how I kept track of him, even though my eyes were on the berries. We sang songs and carried on sweet mama/toddler conversations, as well, so that no mama bear and her cub would come upon us, unexpectedly, and challenge us for picking-rights.

Chris at 28 months, about the same age as Sweetpea is now.

Chris was very social, even at a young age. I loved the fact that he was not afraid of strangers, and made friends easily. But when I watched other toddlers cry and cling to their mothers when they were left in the care of a baby-sitter or Bible class teacher, there was a little part of me that almost wished he wouldn't quite so easily say "Bye-bye, Mama" in such situations. (As it turned out, it was the same when he left for college. With not much more than a "Bye Mom," he was gone!)

At age 14

If I were to pick a few words to describe Chris in his junior high and high school years they might be "busy," "likable," "clever," "impulsive" and "confident." School was easy for him, but he put only as much effort into studying as was needed to pass with acceptable grades. More important to him, at that age, were his friendships, his adventures and his projects. He was a perpetual motion machine, and just watching him was exhausting to those of us close to him.

Chris turns 35 today! And I couldn't be prouder of him. He's a thoughtful and dedicated husband to Kelsey, and an amazingly good father to Sweetpea. And to my joy, he has lived his life in harmony with his name -- Christopher (Christ-bearer).

Happy birthday, Chris! I hope you enjoy your authentic Newberg Coffee Cottage roasted coffee beans.

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