After spending the last dozen or so years being a bit of a Scrooge from November 1 though December 25, this year feels totally different. And of course, it’s all because of DJ.
For the first time ever in my adult life, it is December 7th and my Christmas tree is decorated (albeit with a lighting scheme that wouldn’t be my first choice if it wasn’t for a certain 9-year-old and my DH), a good chunk of my Christmas shopping & Christmas cards are done, and I’m actually seeking out the 24/7 Christmas music channels on the radio. And did I mention that we’re going to see *A Musical Christmas Carol* downtown tomorrow?
Maybe my heart hasn’t really grown three sizes since the day that DJ joined our family, but I’ve definitely become one of those people that I used to look on in the not-so-distant past in wonder and maybe just a little disdain (okay, I still silently curse folks who send out their Christmas cards the day after Thanksgiving, but motherhood hasn’t changed me completely!).
Not that the holidays aren’t fraught with headaches & challenges in addition to all of this overflowing Christmas cheer. One of the big points stressed by adoption professionals is that the holidays are often a confusing and difficult time for adoptive kids. And while DJ continues to be making incredible progress, he’s no different from other kids who have lost some or all of their biological families and struggled to find a permanent home. For DJ, this will be his first Christmas with his fairly-new mom and dad along with all of our extended family and friends.
Even for a non-adoptive child, the holidays with our clan can be a bit overwhelming. Our schedule for Christmas Eve & Christmas Day as we attempt to spend as much time as physically possible with both sides of our families could frazzle even the calmest person’s nerves. So we’re making sure to really take things slowly and celebrate the holiday season a little bit everyday instead of trying to pack everything in to a couple of days. In a particularly uncharacteristic burst of festiveness, I bought our first Advent calendar and made activities for each day. While the activities vary from the silly to the practical, it’s really about creating fun & non-frantic time to spend together as a family. It’s also given our holiday season a much-needed structure that we know DJ craves & needs as he’s trying to find his place.
But for every happy step we take forward together as a “forever family,” there are those speed bumps that remind me how much our little boy has been through in his short life and how careful we need to be to nurture & protect him, especially during the holidays. For example, last night while we were decorating our tree, he admitted that he’s afraid that we’re going to get rid of him the day before Christmas! While we were quick to reassure him that he’s stuck with us for good, it was heartwrenching to see the fear & uncertainty on his face. Permanency is still a really unfamiliar concept for him, and we can’t take for granted that what should be a carefree and happy time for DJ can also be fraught with questions and worries that we would never think of.
Since my greatest Christmas wish has already been granted, it’s hard to imagine asking for anything else. But if I did, my wish for this year would be for my boy to know that he is loved, that he is precious, and that he isn’t going anywhere!