There’s a magic that happens when a brand new baby is on the way.
People smile at a pregnant mama’s belly.
Strangers in line at the grocery store whisper in her ear, “Enjoy every moment! It goes by quick!”
The nursery comes to life, mom and dad smiling at one another as they put the crib together (DAMN IT!!! THESE INSTRUCTIONS ARE WRITTEN BY A TOTAL *!#%*!#$). Quiet Sunday afternoons are spent in anticipation of the new arrival, painting the baby’s room soft blues and pinks and yellows and neon greens. (Okay, I made that last part up. Poor neon green.)
But best of all (let’s just all admit this together here and now, okay?), people give you gifts. Lots of them. Too many of them. More onesies than you will ever need. A ridiculous amount of rattles and other plastic crap that will never ever be touched — $65 lamb plushies from the big gun stores like Crate, Bath, and Cinnabon.
It’s all good, though. I mean, it’s free stuff, right? And besides, lots of those gifts DO come in handy. I’m still using the sippy cups and a bull whip we received at our first child’s baby shower on my third kid. Because listen up, by your third kid no one gives you anything but strange looks, trust me.
Still, I’m going to let you in on a little secret that you probably didn’t know about. The most magically cool gift that you or your newborn baby will ever receive is a couple of keyboard clicks away, doesn’t cost a dime, and will be something that you both will cherish for the rest of your lives.
See, The White House (yes, THAT White House) offers new parents the chance to receive what has proven to be just about the best gift my daughter, Violet, now 7, has ever received. Right before she was born, someone mentioned it to her mom and me at a lamaze class. (Ugh.)
“Did you guys write to the The White House about getting a ‘Baby’s Birth Greeting’ from the President? You HAVE to do it! It’s wonderful!”
I was skeptical at first. Something from the President? For our daughter? How? Why? How much?!
But I went ahead and looked into it anyway, and guess what? It was the easiest thing I’ve ever done. Right after Violet was born, I went to this website, filled out the necessary info, and clicked it all over to the Powers That Be.
Then I promptly forgot about it to the chaotic joy of new fatherhood.
Until one day, months later, a hand-written envelope arrived in our mailbox. From The White House.
I was so giddy I almost knocked Violet down with my special We-Are-Friends-With-The-President moonwalk dance. I held her in my lap and we gently opened the envelope that was addressed to Violet herself. (Save the envelope too! It’s not hoarding. It’s magnificent!)
And inside was the most amazing little card with what I still think is the loveliest message to a child from the newly elected President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama.
Welcome to the world! Your arrival is a cause for great celebration for your proud family. We wish you a long and happy life filled with chances to learn, ideas to explore, people to love, and dreams to fulfill.
I still tear up a little when I read that. And I’m not lying at all when I say I’ve read it at least 6 million times over the last eight years. And all of this was very special to us because our Violet had been born on the very same day that President Obama was inaugurated into his first term of office. But no matter who the President is, believe me when I tell you that this is something worth having.
Violet loves having this gift. We keep the envelope and card together in a small frame. It’s been really good fodder for Show and Tell days (with a note to the teacher to guard it with his/her life). And every single person who ever spots it on my mantle is really curious about it as well.
Hopefully, with a little luck, she’ll be able to keep it for the rest of her life — a small reminder of her mom and dad, of how much they couldn’t wait to meet her before she arrived. And of how much they loved her once she did.More On