The Novice Father: Some assembly required |

The Novice Father: Some assembly required

Kelly Coffey
Eagle County CO, Colorado
Special to the DailyKelly Coffey

EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado ” My earliest Christmas memories include my dad opening the chimney flue so Santa could get in. They also include my grandfather and me looking into the night sky, trying to tell the difference between Rudolph’s red nose and a 747’s taillights.

Christmas has always been a special and exciting time, but my adult Christmases seem to get packed with errands and scrambling to get work done. Some of the magic wears off when you’re bouncing around half the liquor stores in the valley, trying to find one that’s open so you have a bottle of wine to bring to dinner.

Yet now that I have a 7-month-old daughter, I found that this Christmas is a lot different than ones of the recent past. Though the Kid is too young to create lifelong memories of her own, I still approached this one with a newfound excitement. I also noticed that the family element plays a much bigger role now: we have grandparents and cousins and in-laws scattered in houses up and down the Vail Valley.

What do other new fathers feel about their first Christmas with a new member of the family?

Alan Braunholtz of Vail spends most of his Christmas holidays working. He has a hard time seeing it as a special occasion. Now with a 4-month-old daughter, the biggest difference between this year and years past is less sleep.

Participate in The Longevity Project

The Longevity Project is an annual campaign to help educate readers about what it takes to live a long, fulfilling life in our valley. This year Kevin shares his story of hope and celebration of life with his presentation Cracked, Not Broken as we explore the critical and relevant topic of mental health.

“My wife’s more excited because Christmas is a photo op for the family,” he said.

The camera comes out a lot these days in the Coffey household, too. We have a long list of red and green baby outfits ” given as gifts ” that need wearing and documenting. The Kid gets excited. But it’s because of the attention… not from the thought of Santa coming.

“The dog is probably more excited about Christmas than the baby,” Braunholtz said.

Unlike his dog, Braunholtz’s 4-month-old daughter can’t smell some of the edible gifts well meaning but misguided friends leave under the tree.

B.J. Aguilar of Edwards had an unusually late Christmas Eve this year.

“I stayed up later to make sure all the presents were ready and lined up just right,” he said.

His big present to his 4-month-old daughter was a crib. Though she wouldn’t know the difference if Aguilar left it in the box, Aguilar spent hours putting that crib together and propping it near the tree as if Santa had dropped it off for her.

When it comes to toys, I’ve found that the Kid prefers the simple over the complex.

Her favorite toys right now are a set of plastic cups … pretty much a step up from the cups you get with your Budweiser during happy hour. On one of her play mats, she chooses to play with the tags (machine wash warm, do not light on fire) over the dangling toys scientifically designed to stimulate brain growth.

Aguilar’s daughter is the same way with her Christmas presents.

“She loves the wrapping paper,” Aguilar said. “She had so much fun opening the presents. It didn’t mater what was in it.”

Kelly Coffey is a novice father. He shares his mistakes, fears, and laughs along his journey to figure out how anybody could possibly raise a child. Submit comments to

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