Tied by blood and photos

We had a very special moment yesterday. My brother and sister-in-law arrived from their home in Germany, and with my parents and youngest sister, came over for a late dinner last night. We have not seen them in over a year, when my brother came here from Iraq for his R&R leave. He had never met his namesake, Baby Boy (they share the same middle name), and it had been well over a year since he had seen the Munchkin. She wasn’t quite a year old when he last saw her, and she will be two years old next week.

I have been working really hard with her to get names down. She calls my youngest sister by name, but she’s the auntie that she sees the most often (usually twice a week). She can say “Gwama” and “Icha” for Grandma and Gichan (my parents), and we have been looking at pictures in her own little photo album so that she can learn names of people who aren’t here right now.

But I knew that her uncle was just a picture to her. She has long since forgotten ever seeing him before, except that there are pictures of her being held by him as a newborn, and then as an 11 month old. So once I knew that he and his wife were coming for Christmas, I worked hard on getting her to say his name. Eventually she could identify him in a photo, but would she be able to recognize him when her photo came to life and walked into her living room?

That question was answered last night. First her auntie came in, and then she demanded to know where her “Gwama” was. In Grandma came, with her uncle, aunt, and Gichan. Once I got done hugging my brother and sister-in-law, and handing Baby Boy to my sister-in-law, everybody pointed at my brother and asked the Munchkin, “Who is that?”

She didn’t miss a beat. “Jonason.”

He was thrilled, her Gichan was impressed, her Mommy and Grandma and Daddy were all pleased, and for the rest of the night, her little voice could be heard calling for her uncle. Of course, she wrestled with her Gichan and played with her auntie, too. But she kept coming back to her uncle and calling him by name.

I felt vindicated – all my hard work had paid off. She didn’t remember him, but she knew him. He wasn’t a total stranger to her. And that’s all that mattered.

And Baby Boy? He cuddled up with both his uncle and aunt and made friends for life.

This will be a fun Christmas.

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