Once upon a Christopher

C'mon baby, eat! You know you're not a fussy eater. You know you'll be eating Korean food some day...

Good morning, dear Christopher.

I know you’re still dreaming in your bed out there in the land of palm trees and desert sands and breezes from the Pacific Ocean.  You’re still dreaming in your bed, safe asleep in San Diego, perhaps turning over on your pillow, not yet remembering that today is your 30th birthday.

Today, today, you’re 30 years old, my dear one, my son!

It is a special day, indeed.

And because you’re still sound asleep and haven’t yet awoke to brew your coffee and write your dissertation and teach your discussion section, I will tell you a story, a magical story, like we did in olden times when you were still a sprout and I was a young mama and we lived in our Little House in the Big Woods.

Papa teaches Baby Christopher to crawl. Or does Baby teach Papa to crawl?

This story is called Once Upon a Christopher.

You were born on a rainy day in 1982.  I know you remember because you were born like a little old man.  You came fresh out of the birth canal with wise eyes and you casually appraised the hospital room, watching, watching, looking around, absorbing your new surroundings.

I called you the Watcher.

Of course these titles are both right and wrong.  You have always been the Watcher, but you are so many things I never dreamed.  You are the doer and the hiker and the runner and the student and the teacher.  You are so many rich and amazing things rolled up into a single person, like we all are.

But back then neither of us realized this.  You simply looked around the hospital room on that rainy day 30 years ago and silently inclined your head, not even thinking of wailing or crying like most babies.

Mommy Bear, Daddy Barry and Baby Bear living in the woods. Who wants porridge?

Once upon a Christopher…

You were not a Christopher Robin with Winnie the Pooh and Piglet and Tigger and Rabbit.

You were Christopher Ryan and you were the Prince of our little woods.

You were the wild adventurer, building forts from sticks and logs, brandishing enemies with stick-swords, swinging on branches, ruling your kingdom like every forest prince does.

Let's both talk at the same time through this old-fashioned telephone...

You drew picture after picture, long squiggly lines filled with miniature people, long epic tales depicted on your scrolls.  Once you drew on a scroll of paper that stretched the length of our little house when rolled flat on our wooden basement floor.  So many adventures in your mind, so much action!

Look at all the attention the first-born grandchild gets! Lucky duck!

You wrote stories, books, epic novels.  Remember the snow fort war story about the kids in Alaska?  (Of course you remember.  I am the one that cannot recall the details except for the children building snow forts and…well, somewhere down in your bedroom behind the closed door and beneath the dust lies a manuscript which you once penciled diligently for hours upon woods hours, lost in imaginary worlds.)

Speaking of lucky ducks...

I can’t tell all your secrets here because 30-year old men may not appreciate their mamas yammering on and on and on, telling all about their growing up years, so shall we quietly just look at the photos together, remember when and when and when, pointing at the pictures, laughing a little, perhaps even crying like I did three times yesterday when collecting and scanning them?

(There aren’t 30 photos, but almost that many.  Guess I got a little carried away thinking about the 30 years which have passed, which have shaped you, which have guided you into the thoughtful and loving and beautiful person you are today.)

And baby makes Four Little Bears. Hi Kiah! Thanks for joining us! Your big brother will love you lots.

Look who's grown up, Little Ring Bearer!

Yep, you're the bestest big brudda in the who wide world!

Prince of the forest, King of the woods, Magical nature child!

The oldest cousin. Hey, why is Tianna crying anyway and who's that boy holding a RABBIT?

Look at you growing up, Christopher Ryan, look at you now...

Junior High already? Don't say it's so!

You were the world's most brilliant, talented & dedicated snow fort builder (with your sidekick, that is.) So your mama says.

High school already? College? With your Grandpa and Grandma and Mom down in Florida, I think.

Thanks for coming home and helping us with chores. You always have helped us so willingly.

Here come the kids home from college! Barry, look who's here!

Here we all are, how many years ago? One of the last times we were all together as The Four Bears

And now you've found someone special...

And you brought her to our Little House in the Big Woods. Hello, Seunghye!

This is one of my favorite pictures of you both from our visit together in San Diego last March.

I wish we could be together today, Chris.  To eat lunch.  To perhaps bake an angel food cake with chocolate whipped cream.  (tee hee.  Remember how many of these we made on birthdays?)  To swap stories of what’s happening in our lives.  Although you are such a thoughtful son–you call us so much to share about your full life in California–every week I thank every twinkling star in the sky that you care enough to stay in touch, and to call regularly, sometimes even twice a week when something really exciting happens.

You read this blog almost every day, too, you angel, you sweet son–OK, I’m getting really mushy and a little teary-eyed too, and you’re probably rolling your eyes mightily now.

You grew to be independent yet caring, self-sufficient yet inclusive.  I marvel at how your life seems to be going so well, how much we like Seunghye, how much your students appreciate you, how enthused you are about your research for your sociology dissertation.

May you continue through life with blessings, dear son.

Have a wonderful 30th birthday.

It’s a special day.  You’re a special person…in the eyes of those that love you.

Doing one of your favorite things in the whole world...Happy 30th Birthday, dear Christopher!

I love you.

About Kathy

I live in the middle of the woods in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Next to Lake Superior's cold shores. I love to blog.
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45 Responses to Once upon a Christopher

  1. Kiah says:

    I cried!! Happy birthday CD

  2. happy, Happy, HAPPY birthday Christopher!

  3. Whoa! That’s quite a snow fort! And Happy Birthday, Christopher! Interesting coincidence — today is also the birthday of one of my relatives! What are the odds??!!

  4. Carla says:

    Happy Birth-ing Day, Kathy!

  5. Happy tears here. My son is 30 also. No snow forts, because he grew up in San Francisco with us, but lots of grass hill forts and wide-eyed hunger at learning something new every day. Thank you for sharing a mom’s love for her always ‘baby boy.’ I understand every underpinning of joy, pain, loss, and gain. Happy Birthday to your Christopher.

  6. Brenda Hardie says:

    Happy Birthday Christopher! May you be abundantly blessed today and throughout your life 🙂 Happy Birthing Day Kathy ♥ Sending you warm hugs and much love because this Mama knows what it feels like to have the heartstrings tugged…..♥

  7. Val says:

    Happy birthday Christopher from one of your mom’s readers (I love her blog!) Love that snow fort and all the photos. 🙂

  8. forestfae says:

    You are a very special mom.
    Happy 30th Christopher 🙂

  9. Happy Birthday to Christopher! 🙂 You got me all teary-eyed, Kathy….. I started thinking about my boys, wondering what kind of lives they will have when they grow up. I asked my little one the other day what he wanted to be when he grew up, and he told me, “A golfer player!” I smiled, hugged him, and said, “You can be ANYTHING your heart desires, and I will be right there to cheer you on!!” The greatest gift anyone can receive is watching their own children grow up to become their own person. ♥

  10. Irene Lefort says:

    I feel as if I have known Christopher all my life. Happy Birthday! 🙂

  11. Fountainpen says:

    What rich warm moments as family!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


  12. Heather says:

    Those are beautiful pictures and words, Kathy. You’re obviously a proud mama, and for many, many good reasons. Christopher, I hope you have a marvelous birthday!

  13. sonali says:

    Wishing Christopher a very happy birthday!! 🙂 How special gift this is, that Mom special has composed such a wonderful post. May Christopher have a great life ahead. Prayers. 🙂

  14. Colleen says:

    Kathy, what a beautiful tribute to all of you. And the best of all wishes to you Christopher, on your 30th birthday!! Thinking of our two guys when they turned thirty. It truly is a very special moment in life.

  15. Carol says:

    The joys of remembering, of celebrating having children who grow up into responsible, likable, wonderful adults.

  16. susan says:

    Hi Kathy,
    What a lovely birthday tribute! My son is 30 next month!

  17. I love this post, Kathy! Happy birthday, Christopher!

  18. Susan D. says:

    Would that every child received such a tribute from his mamma (and daddy) … tears here also and fullness brimming over. Happy Birthday to a blessed son. Happy Birthday, Chris!

  19. lucindalines says:

    Happy Birthday Christopher. What a wonderful tribute to give your son!:)

  20. Lori DiNardi says:

    Such eloquent words from a mom. You are all very blessed. Happy Birthday Christopher.

  21. john says:

    You know, this is what makes me feel old. My oldest also turns 30 this year. Nothing else has ever caused me to be so reflective as his upcoming 30th birthday. Happy Birthday Chrisopher! You have done well! Kathy, you and Barry should be commended. That is one fine young man!

  22. Marianne says:

    Beautiful, absolutely beautiful, Kathy. Happy Birthday, Christopher! Wishing you all the best! 🙂

  23. Sybil says:

    What an awesome snow fort !

    Happy birth day Kathy ! Happy Birthday Christopher !

  24. mom and dad says:

    Kathy, what a beautiful journey through Chris’s 30 years…read through “wet eyes” by both of us! I remembered several times today about my solo mega hour trip to the U.P. to leand a helping hand. Chris knows how proud we are of his very, very hard work and dedication to achieving his goals, and his successes along the way. His greatest birthday gift today is the gift of being raised, supported and loved by a loving family and extended family. Mom and dad aka nanny and papa.

  25. Oh Kathy, now I have teary eyes too…Happy Birthday Christopher! My son turns 27 in April and guess where he’ll be on his birthday? The USA! He’s going over there with some old friends from school for a month.

    (Excuse me while I get a tissue, sniff…) Beautiful memories and photos. Thank you for sharing this special day with us. xxx

  26. emaclean says:

    Can I post again? You got me all choked up and that’s all I could say at that moment: Love. My youngest is my watcher. Very special children those are (of course they are all special!). From the get go, she watched and held on tight. Now at 15, she is a free spirit with wings to soar.

    What a beautiful tribute Kathy.

  27. Chris says:

    Thank you everyone for your birthday wishes!

  28. Kathy says:

    Echoing Christopher’s sentiments: Thank you everyone for your birthday wishes! (Mama adds: Thank you for your tears. Thank you to mothers and fathers and sons and daughters everywhere. May we appreciate each other even more today, and as the years go by. I appreciate every one of you for stopping here.)

  29. Karma says:

    Beautiful post Kathy! I love it.
    (P.S. – your posts with scanned photos always make me want to go running to my scanner too!)

  30. Happy Birthday Christopher! Your wonderful family has been richly blessed. (My dad shares your birthday – he just turned 90!)

  31. Christina says:

    Such a sweet post, Kathy! I had the same reaction as some of the other commenters —made me a little misty-eyed. You’re so lucky to have such a great relationship with both of your children as I don’t think that all parents are this fortunate.

  32. What a sweet, sweet post 🙂
    Happy belated birthday, Christopher!

    That snow fort is AMAZING, btw!!

  33. Kathy says:

    Thank you again, everyone. Christina, I wish all parents & children had good relationships… It is very sad when that doesn’t happen. Michaela, I loved their snow forts!!

  34. Ditto everything above and belated birthday wishes to Chris. A beautiful tribute from a mom to a son.

  35. Kathy says:

    Thanks again…

  36. Dana says:

    Gorgeous and touching post, Kathy. I know I’m late to the party, but please wish Christopher a happy 30th on my behalf! He’s lucky to have such a wonderful Mother Bear. 🙂

  37. Kathy says:

    Mama bear is still grinning…more than a week later! Just got off the phone with my boy right now. 🙂

  38. Pingback: When will he arrive? « Lake Superior Spirit

  39. thatbunnie says:

    This is a really sweet post! Your children are beautiful Katy.
    Loving the old telephone and floating duck. : )

    • Kathy says:

      Thank you for taking the time to comment! Glad you enjoyed, thatbunnie. (Chris is home now and he’s sleeping…bachelor parties tire one out, apparently, lol!)

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