Most elementary-aged boys wish for toys, video games or sports memorabilia when Christmas comes around and letters to Santa go out. However, Liam Ebbitt, a fifth grader at Park Elementary School, wanted something quite different.
All he wanted was to be a big brother.
Liam is the first child of Jennifer and Jim Ebbitt, born the year after they married in 2007. The couple wanted to have multiple children back to back so that they could grow up together within the same age range.
“Nature had other plans,” Jennifer said. “We found out that we were going to have a lot of trouble having another baby. It was many years of many doctors’ appointments and lots of failed attempts and financially a lot of money. A lot of heartache. It was a challenge for seven years.”
Frustrated and defeated by infertility, Jennifer said she decided that if she was not pregnant by New Year’s Eve of 2017, that would be the end of it. They would stop trying.
“And that was when Liam said ‘Hey, maybe Santa can step in,’” she said.
The Ebbitts had been sending letters to Santa as far back as they can recall, but started utilizing the mailbox to Santa provided by the Picozzi family – located outside their Christmas extravaganza house that annually delights passersby with a blinged out light display – when it popped up three years ago.
So, during Christmas season in 2016, when other kids sent letters to Santa asking for a whole range of goodies, Liam wished only for a little brother or sister. “I just felt lonely sometimes,” he said when asked why he wanted to be a big brother so badly.
“At the time, it kind of stung a little bit because I didn’t feel that was something we could do,” Jennifer said.
But by the following spring, Santa’s magic had taken effect. Jennifer found out she was pregnant in April of 2017 with not just one baby, but with twins. Sadly, one of the twins stopped developing and was lost, but the joy of having a healthy baby after so many years of trying remained strong.
Santa’s magic, it seems, is not granted without some cosmic trickery.
At one of their first ultrasounds, when they learned they would just be having one baby, test results revealed they would be having a boy – not an unexpected result, there were practically no girls on Jim’s side of the family. They prepared happily for their new son, Bodie.
At a gender reveal party, Jim was set to crush a papier-mâché softball to reveal the colored powder within – blue for a boy and pink for a girl. It would be a spectacle and a surprise all in one. Would have been, being the key terminology, as the ball that was supposed to be quite fragile was actually fashioned out of plastic.
“My husband hit the ball and it didn’t break,” Jennifer said. “It went sailing into the outfield instead.”
Santa must have been trying to tell them something. The ball did eventually spill blue powder, but at the next ultrasound they were thrown quite a curveball. The child was now testing unequivocally as a female. It turned out, the first test had picked up a false reading from the genetic material left over from the undeveloped twin that was lost. Jennifer equated it to a “0.01 percent chance” of such an instance, but nevertheless it happened.
The Ebbitts would be having a girl – which provided even more excitement, as Jennifer would be able to name the baby after her late mother, who passed away when she was just 26. A healthy baby girl, Sara, was born right around Christmas of 2017.
“We never expected to have a girl, ever,” she said. “We went through that whole gamut of surprises with the pregnancy, and now have something for my mom as well, which is really cool.”
And now Liam has his little sister, whom he calls his favorite Christmas present of all.
“I believe in Christmas,” he said.
Jennifer thanked her coworkers and her boss at Hope Hospice for providing support throughout the entire ordeal, and lets Liam know that he is the best big brother. The pair sent another letter to Santa this year thanking him for granting their wish, which Picozzi shared on the Positive Warwick Facebook page as “the greatest letters written to Santa in history,” which led to this story.
To Jennifer, whose job tasks her with making people as comfortable as possible as they bid farewell to this life, her own experience with disappointment, loss and, ultimately, creating a loving family that cherishes one another, is perspective enough to believe that Christmas magic is no illusion.
“Magic is where you look for it,” she said. “Everyone is so grumpy and miserable all the time. It’s so easy to find the bad stuff, but if you just kind of look around, you can see a lot. I’ve not really ever asked for anything quite to this magnitude that has come true, so there’s got to be a reason for it.”