Well, another Christmas has come and gone. This one was particularly special for us, since it was both Ryan's first Christmas and our first Christmas with a child. Stereotypically for a child on Christmas morning, Ryan woke us up at 5:30 AM. However, true to his usual daily ritual, it was more because he was hungry than because he was excited about opening gifts. In a few years that will probably reverse itself. We also expect Ryan to start helping out a little more with actually opening the gifts. Since he's not quite five months old he had a little trouble with the wrapping paper; Mommy and Daddy had to help out a bit with that part. Once we got the gifts open for him, we'd show them to Ryan who would then promptly try to eat them. This worked better for some gifts than for others. :-)
For the majority of Ryan's Christmas, we tried an idea that Teresa suggested. Since Ryan's direct involvement in opening his gifts was limited by his age, we each got some surprise gifts for Ryan, and then opened the gifts to Ryan from the other parent. This made Christmas shopping particularly fun and also added to the surprise factor of Christmas morning. It was fun to see the different perspectives we brought to Ryan's Christmas: for an example, Daddy got Ryan a space heater (for bath time in the Philadelphia winter) and Mommy got Ryan a Leap Frog toy designed to teach farm animal sounds. The toy is actually really cool, even for adults: farm animals are represented with plastic blocks labled and colored to match the animal they represent. The blocks then have punch card like patterns of holes that signal the type of animal to the farmhouse. This enables the farmhouse to make the appropriate sounds for each animal. (The toy has blocks for three types of animals but a four bit animal encoding scheme that would allow it to distinguish between 15 different types of blocks. Daddy is very curious what the other 12 sounds might be.)
In the end, Ryan's most important gift this year was also one of the smallest. Due to a possible ear ache a couple weeks ago, Teresa ended up having to take Ryan to the doctor to have his ear examined. During that visit, Teresa asked and got approval for Ryan to start eating solid foods other than rice cereal. In honor of that newfound permission, we got Ryan some actual baby food as a stocking stuffer: two tubs each of green peas and squash. Christmas afternoon found Ryan eating away at green peas and absolutely loving them. Compared to the rice cereal, which is apparantly pretty awful, there's no comparision at all: Ryan loves his peas. He opened his mouth when he saw the spoon coming, pulled the spoon towards his mouth, and then licked the peas off the spoon. We have pictures and videos we're going to try to post in the next week or two.
We all hope everybody reading this is having a similarly blessed Holiday season and has a wonderful New Year!