Plans quickly changed when my mom went into labor as they drove through the mountains of Vermont. At 27 weeks, and with under-developed lungs, Benjamin was delivered at the nearest (and tiniest) local hospital. My stepfather spent the first few moments of Ben's life helping him breathe using a hand-operated respirator and within hours, they sent both of them by helicopter to the closest hospital with a prenatal intensive care unit. My mom joined them a few days later and there they stayed, in New Hampshire, through the holidays until everyone was healthy enough to come home.
Needless to say, it was a difficult Christmas for one little eight-year-old girl back home on Long Island. And there was only one thing I really, really wanted.
A Barbie camper.
While my family was in New Hampshire, I spent the holiday with close friends. And even though I was old enough to know the truth about Santa, I dared to wish for my own Christmas miracle; still believing in the possibility that I would find one coveted gift under the tree that December morning.
I can so vividly remember holding my breath (and back my tears) as I scanned around around the living room of our friend's house on Christmas Day-- looking for an enormous camper-shaped present.
But it wasn't there.
I'm not sure if it was the absence of my family or not seeing the present I desperately
After a few painful moments, when the tears had finally cleared from my watery eyes, I glanced up to see the most glorious, oddly-wrapped present being rolled right towards me.
Then I cried some more.
Happy birthday, my little brother. You were the real miracle that Christmas. Come home safely and soon.