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Sharon Randall: A baby is a gift to the world

How do you welcome a baby into the world? Do you send a card? A gift? A pizza?

I’ve done all those things. Somehow it’s never enough.

Years ago, when I heard a friend had gone into premature labor and was being rushed into surgery for a cesarian delivery, I didn’t know what to do.

I prayed, yes, but my fingers kept poking me to do something more. I hate it when they do that. So I called another friend and we broke into her house (a key under the mat made it easier) and cleaned the whole place, top to bottom.

Scrubbing a toilet is a lot more fun if it’s done as an act of love.

My friend said it was the best gift she ever had and we could do it again anytime, with or without her giving birth.

Recently, my husband was scrolling through Facebook when suddenly he said, “Aww! You gotta see this!”

It was a photo posted by a friend who once worked with my husband. I first met him and his wife when they invited us to go bowling. We hadn’t bowled in years. It was a hoot until the next day when we couldn’t walk. Pain aside, the friendship flourished. When they moved out of state, we stayed in touch.

Imagine our delight to see the photo of their newborn son, barely five minutes old, with his tiny starfish hand wrapped around his daddy’s finger.

Few things in life give me more hope than the sight of a newborn who is wanted and loved and will be well cared for, just as every child ought to be.

And few things are funnier (to veteran parents) than the look on the face of a new dad who’s suddenly realizing that, for the rest of his life, he’ll be held captive by a little boy’s hand.

The next day my husband found the perfect card. He’s good at that.

And then began the great debate: What to do for a gift?

My husband is a retired editor and a lifelong musician. He likes to give music. He chose two “baby” CDs by Justin Roberts: Lullabys to put the baby to sleep and funny songs to make the parents laugh as they try to recall what sleep was like.

(His editor side also wanted to send “The Elements of Style,” but he agreed to wait until the boy starts preschool.)

I prefer to give experiences — tickets to a game, or a gift card for dinner — things that become memories rather than things that become trash.

But a newborn’s experiences are somewhat limited to eating, sleeping and, well, you know.

For baby gifts, I’m practical. Forget the cute onesies that fit for five minutes, and the stuffed gorilla that will get buried in the toy box or flushed down the toilet. Instead, I give that most basic of all baby necessities.

No, not diapers. Books.

Luckily, my husband and I tend to like the same “baby” books — ones we read years ago to our own babes, my three and his two. We picked some old favorites: “Goodnight, Moon”; “Pat the Bunny”; “The Very Hungry Caterpillar”; “Where the Wild Things Are”; plus a new favorite of our grandkids, “Dragons Love Tacos.”

What are the books you loved as a child, or that you loved reading to your children? It’s fun to recall them, isn’t it? To me, it’s like a family reunion — without the fist fights.

So we sent them (via Amazon.com) a small gift of books and CDs, words and music, with a note that read, “Congratulations!” to the parents and “Welcome to the world, James Mark! We are so glad you were born!”

It wasn’t enough. A baby is a gift to the world. His parents, bless them, will take care of him. But he brings life and hope and joy to us all. His arrival should be celebrated with fireworks and parades and choirs of angels. At the least, we should get to hold him.

We’ll hope to do that one day. Until then, what do you think? Maybe we’ll send them a pizza?

Sharon Randall can be reached at P.O. Box 777394, Henderson NV 89077, or on her website: www.sharonrandall.com.)

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