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Welcome, Peyton Evangeline (10/04/2006)
By Frances Edstrom

Welcome, Peyton Evangeline Gish! So far, you've not seen much of this new world of yours, but you've seen the best part " two parents who have cherished you since they first discovered your existence, and will do their best to love you, care for you, and bring you the best and most beautiful of life that is in their power.

You took your time getting to us. You and your Mom labored almost twenty hours before you were born at 11:54 p.m. on a glorious Sunday, October 1, 2006. You are healthy, beautiful, and strong. Okay, maybe so far you are pretty average, at 8 lbs. 7 oz., 20 inches long, but don't worry. Even if you won't be featured in People magazine for your above-average birth statistics, it is within your power to make "average" a jumping -off point in life.

What is waiting for you out there? You will be sharing a nice house in a suburb of Chicago with your parents, who work downtown in tall buildings you might get to visit soon. Your folks have been painting and decorating a room just for you in your house, although I bet you'll want to spend most of your time closer to them. You have a big back yard to play in when you get around to it, and although the trees there are little now, they'll grow along with you.

Your Mommy and Daddy have a lot of friends who will come to visit, and they'll bring their kids, built-in playmates for you!

But even before that, you'll meet your Aunt Cassidy, Mom's older sister, who is coming to help your folks settle into this new life you all share. (She's coming all the way from St. Paul, Minnesota, to see you, and I'm sure she'll tell you all about herself and invite you to visit. She has a dog and two cats and a house that will be fun to play in.)

Then there are the four people in the world who have been awaiting your arrival with as much (or sometimes it felt like more!) joy as your parents " people who your birth transformed into grandparents for the first time! You are lucky to have four of them " all anxious to meet you and offer you a lifetime of unconditional love. And I have a sneaking suspicion that they'll have lots of stories about their own babies " your Mom and Dad! You'll become a well-traveled little girl visiting grandparents in Barnegat, New Jersey, and Winona, Minnesota.

And luckier girl! In Winona, Great-grandma Jo Edstrom is all aflutter, waiting to see you and hold you and tell you what it is like to be born ninety-five years before you were. She knows a few things about your parents and grandparents she might share.

Your Daddy has two brothers, Tom, and Steve (who's married to Lisa), who will play with you and swing you around and tell you all the dirt on your Dad.

But it doesn't end there! You are surrounded like a tiny pebble tossed into a pond by ever-expanding rings of relatives. The first you meet will probably be Auntie Susu, who didn't think she'd be so close when you were born, but who is in Winona taking care of your Grandma Fran, who is recovering from hip surgery (just in time to be able to take you for a walk in your stroller). Susu has also been knitting sweaters to keep you warm. You'll soon meet all of your other aunts, uncles, and cousins, including your Mom's much younger cousins Katie, Jenny, and Jason, who can't wait to hold you, the little person who by just showing up has nudged them into the "older" generation.

What is life in this world like outside this large, loving family circle? It has much to recommend it, much to be hopeful about and much joy for those who look for it and nurture it. But it is a world of contrasts, with hills and valleys that you will learn to travel. Your new world is an unfinished canvas begun generations ago, and you, Peyton, are the artist who will paint your part to be passed along into the future. 


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