Bracelets for Our Brothers
Help Us Bring Our Brothers Home
Our First Christmas Together
Posted on December 24th, 2016

"You must be so excited about your first Christmas as a family, tell me all about it!"

If I had a dollar for every time Neil and I have heard this comment in the last month or so, we'd be able to raise the remaining 40% of our adoption fees-- stat! :)

It's actually really daunting and intimidating for me when I start to really dwell on it.  Here we have two children who have never really experienced Christmas as most Americans do, never experienced it in a functional family unit, and so we are feeling ALL of the pressure to make this the most perfect, magical, wonderful time of the year.  The song says so, people, so we must!  But, I have to take a step back and remember, as I often have to, that I cannot fix the last 13 and 10 years.  There is no amount of Christmas cookie baking, gift giving, caroling, church-going, pinterest scouring,  ornament making, crafting, Advent devotion-ing, or eating that will make this "THE BEST CHRISTMAS EVVARRRRR!"  

Yet, I still feel obligated to provide this to them, and I feel like I am constantly falling short.  I am trying hard to give myself grace, and, before you say it, yes, I am trying to "remember the reason for the season", although this is challenging when your children are learning English and developmentally delayed-- they have a hard time with this message and are instead relying on what they've heard about at school (although they do not believe in Santa, I guess you become pretty jaded in an orphanage when he never visits-- we had to have a chat with Stella about how she was NOT to promote that at her school and that we WOULD find out and return all her presents if she told other kids that).

The second most common thing we hear is:

"Your girls must be so excited, and what a magical time for your family."

Nope.  Hasn't been magical.  It has been emotionally messy, trauma-laiden (yes, the celebrated Christmas in Bulgaria, and yes, there are lots of traumatic memories associated with this holiday, and yes they remember, and yes they take that out on us, their parents), overly busy, exhausting, and not magical.  It's been tough more days than not, and our family has also dealt with some delays in our current adoption of the boys as well as a lot of emotions from the girls about why it is "taking so long" (oh, sweet girls, we are on the fast track this time!).

We've had hospitalizations totaling a third of the month of December for one child, and projectile vomiting from the other child yesterday all over my van.  We've had countless concerts, rehearsals, and Neil has had playoff football games for the band, fruit sales, parades, and the list goes on.  Our family time has been stretched thin, and we all feel it.  I simply have not had the time to do some of the favorite things I personally look forward to and wanted to share with them this year.  I want so desperately for them to have a magical experience, but I fear I am not providing this and it is robbing my own spirit.

I have fallen short in so many ways.  I have not lit our Advent candle weekly and prayed devotionals with my children like I planned.  We didn't go see the lights at the zoo or at the park like we planned.  I made PRE MADE cookies for Santa.  Y'all, I don't do pre-made.  They are the ugliest cookies I've ever baked.  I have not kept up with our Advent countdown calendar, and I'm pretty sure the girls don't even know what the Nativity scene is for, but they do know not to touch it because it has been passed down to us by family LOL.

My prayer ahead of our beautiful Christmas Eve service tonight is that I be able to center myself around the right message, and that my children will have THE BEST CHRISTMAS EVARRRRRR but it will be because we are all finally united together and will be making videos for their brothers to see that they, too, were included in our family celebrations.

I am human, I am broken, I often fall short.  My prayer is that I am enough for my children in this season and that they do have happy memories, even if they weren't everything I wanted for them.  We are all broken together, our whole broken, imperfect, patched together family.  We will overcome the trauma, and we will arrive on the other side stronger.  This may be our first Christmas together, but it is one of many, and there will be time for other things later.  I just have to find a way to remind myself that the first may not be the greatest, and that as time goes on, they will be able to enjoy more as a family.  We all will.  Our brokenness will be healed year after year.

Merry Christmas to each of you, blessings for the New Year.  Know that our family considers our biggest blessing this year to be the support we have received from you through www.braceletsforourbrothers.com.  



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