A baby shows a new way to start the year

It was 5 a.m. on New Year's Day when my 16-month-old daughter decided it was time to wake up. She did not take into consideration the fact that I had just gone to bed only three short hours ago and I wanted to sleep.

I tried to convince her that it was still time to be sleeping: I took her into my bed - no go. I took her back to her bed - no go. Again, back in my bed, I even went so far as to pretend to be sleeping, to set the proper example.

As I lay quietly, forcing myself to breathe rhythmically in and out, I heard her slide off the bed and begin to toddle around the room. I listened as she attempted, to no avail, to awaken the dog.

I heard her little footsteps as she went about the room collecting small toys and objects. And I could just make out the faint outline of her sweet head when she came back over to the bed to deposit her finds.

The gentle whispering and cooing of her voice was so delightful and engaging that I was soon convinced my make-believe sleep was no match for her real desire to be awake.

So down the stairs we crept.

First, I attended to the wood stove. I sat her on the couch and she watched me attentively as I stirred the coals and added new wood. In just moments we had a magnificent fire.

She then let me know that music was next on her early-morning agenda. I went over to the stereo and softly put on Charlotte Church's "Voice of an Angel" CD. Instantly the music filled the room and gently embraced us both in its pureness and beauty.

My daughter's next request was to turn on the Christmas tree lights. She stood very still, she was almost in silhouette by the first light of daybreak that began to tiptoe into the room. She looked intently up at the now-twinkling tree, silent, entranced, and content.

With her small hand in mine we padded over to the couch.

We snuggled together in front of the fire, encircled by warmth, surrounded by harmony, embraced in affection and colorful light.

This was an enchanted time in the first dawn of the new year. I was fully awake and aware of just how precious this occasion was. How thankful I was for her early awakening and the closeness that came to us as a result.

It was then that I could truly appreciate that there was no amount of sleep that could ever have refreshed me and restored my sense of awe the way those early-morning moments with my precious baby girl did, when she taught me how to bring in the new year.

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