The ultimate Christmas gift

There is a wounded look in her eye.

And for good reason.

Numerous miscarriages preceded the birth of her only child several years ago and the trauma of each tragic loss still cuts deep.

It was IVF treatment that finally produced the long awaited infant that has brought such joy to her life - his birth was something she had all but given up hope of ever seeing.

She tells me her tale during a social evening of fun and frivolity.

Coincidentally she is not the only one in the room who has been down the heartbreaking path walked by so many couples struggling to conceive.

A man, without prompting and during a second quite separate conversation, starts telling me a similar story.

His son, also the product of medical intervention, sits with his mother a few feet away - an amazing young example of scientific advancement in the modern age.

I think it is Christmas that has loosened the tongues of these people and prompted them to spill all to a stranger ... Yuletide and its focus on family.

Both can invoke extreme reactions in people and my thoughts go back to an older and childless relative who, with limited options many years prior, had no choice but to live with the tough hand nature played she and her husband.

She would have made a great mum.

It all makes me eternally grateful for my own two kids and the immense pleasure they have brought into the home I share with my wife, their mother. It is an experience I wish every couple who wants it could have. The joy of parenthood.

I can't help but think of the first ever Christmas when a Jewish woman named Mary from Bethlehem gave birth to her own miracle child and in turn the beginning of a religious movement that has endured the test of time.

Subscribers to that belief celebrate the milestone every year and nonbelievers climb on board for the holiday season that traditionally comes with it.

All, I 'm sure, have cause to reflect at some point on the wonder of being a mother or father; the happiness it brings in the present and the hope it offers in the future - just as that young mum did in a stable 2000 years ago.

Anyone who doesn't, should because - as I have just been reminded  - none of us should take our children for granted.

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