Can you even believe we’re at this point in the year already? Honestly, it feels to me like the first 6 months of the year drag on for twice as long as it feels like they should and the second 6 months go past in a blink. So here we are, it’s beyond time to start thinking about Christmas wish lists.
If you’re an organized person you probably already have your gifts bought, wrapped and hidden. I am not, by any stretch of the imagination, an organized person. Therefore, I’m just now getting around to really thinking about Christmas gifts for anyone. There is still a high likelihood I’ll buy something and hide it only to forget about it and find it next January. Totally theoretically. Not like that’s happened every year for the past several years. Because that would be bananas. Anyway.
In addition to thinking about what my kids might like to receive under the tree, I start to get really sentimental about this time as well. I had dreamt about celebrating Christmas with my own kids for years before we ever had any. I imagined magical Christmas mornings filled with wonderous traditions. I daydreamed about giggles, gift wrap, and happiness all around. The longer I have children, the more I laugh at what I imagined the Christmas season would look like with them. I evidently have seen one too many Hallmark movies. You’d think after having experienced Christmas season with my brothers and sisters, I would have learned a thing or two about expectation versus reality. Dear reader, I have not.
Despite my knowledge to the contrary I still construct mile-high expectations and am brought low with disappointment in myself and others when my expectations are not even close to being met. It is a major personal flaw and, believe me when I say, I’m working on it.
What does this all have to do with adoption? Well, because my kids all have trauma histories to one degree or another, they tend to have the same impossibly high expectations around holidays and birthdays. They expect and demand magical adventures and picture-perfect memories. Because we are all human and it is impossible to meet everyone’s expectations to every last detail, every holiday tends to end in someone or many someones being disappointed.
And so, this year, I’ve decided that I have a list of Christmas wishes for my adopted children that I am fairly certain I can attain. I can’t promise there will be no drama. I can never promise that. In fact, often the trigger for big feelings is so innocuous to most people, it’s easy to miss what’s really going on. Again, I’m working on it. So, here’s my Christmas list for my adopted children.
1. I wish that you will get one thing this season that makes you really happy.
I promise I won’t be offended if you don’t love the thing I bought specifically for you and had to search 5 stores in Christmastime traffic to find.
2. I wish that you’ll understand that even though our family isn’t perfect, we love you so much.
I promise I won’t get grumpy if you have some big feelings because you’re remembering holidays with your first family and it makes you sad. I’m the adult and it’s my job to be a safe place for you to express disappointment and sorrow.
3. I wish that you’d tell me when you’re feeling overwhelmed with all of the people at the family gathering.
Here’s a not-so-secret secret for you: I get super overwhelmed in big gatherings too and if you say you need to leave it gives me a great excuse to leave as well. Don’t feel bad telling me these things. I am all for you feeling safe and not overwhelmed.
4. I wish you would get a few good memories to hold on to.
I know it’s hard to not have bad memories triggered around big days. As an adult working through my own trauma, I find that it is the littlest things that trigger the biggest, scariest emotions. Christmastime is full of potential emotional triggers. Because expectations are high it is easy to let you down and I’m so sorry about that. I hope that the longer we are together the more good memories you have that help you forget the terrible ones.
5. I wish you would use your words.
This is not just a Christmas wish. This is an every-dang day wish. I am not a mindreader. I know you think I know what you’re thinking. I’m not sure where you got this incorrect idea. I assure you 100%, it is not true. Please tell me when you’re upset and tell me why you are upset. It is not always obvious when your sister is being bratty towards you; but if you tell me, I can try to intervene on your behalf. Furthermore, wordless screaming only serves to frustrate everyone else. It does exactly nothing to fix your problem. In fact, it adds to your problem because now all of the adults are annoyed because there is a screaming kid. I’ve got your back, and I’ll explain what’s wrong to them for you, but I can only do this if you tell me what is wrong. If you don’t know—well, tell me that too. I get that. Sometimes my depression is a jerk that just pops up out of nowhere. I don’t know why I’m sad and that’s super frustrating.
6. I wish you’d believe me when I say I love you.
I know it’s easy to feel like everyone is out to get you when you’re having a bad day. I understand why you think I’m just being mean when you have a consequence because of unacceptable behavior. This Christmas, I really want you to understand that I don’t even have enough words to express how much I love you and how thankful I am that you are part of our family. I hope that you can hold onto that even when you’re angry at me for doing my job.
7. I wish you’d be able to understand that we are trying.
We are trying to understand. We are trying to help. We are trying to love you the very best we can. I know we fall short. A lot of the time I feel like a failure. I feel like you deserve more than I can give. But still, I wish that you’ll see through my mistakes and into my good intentions. Just like you’re new to having me as a mom, I’m new to being a mom. I know it feels like its been forever since you came home, but I’m still trying to figure this out.
8. I wish you would have so much fun with family.
I love that you now have cousins galore. I love that you want to see them. I hope that you can enjoy them when we get to visit. I hope you always know that they love you and accept you as their own as much as we do.
9. I wish you would try new things.
Yes, I’m aware that some of the food and experiences are strange. Can you try to have an open mind and try new things? Try watching this movie with us, try this sushi to see if you like it. Try this pie that you’ve never seen before. You may hate it—but hey, you also may find your new favorite thing.
10. I wish you would understand that the whole point of Christmas isn’t you.
Yes. We make a big deal about you. We want you to have good things and a good time. But you aren’t the point. You aren’t the focus. You aren’t the reason we celebrate. Please don’t be offended. You are very special but you are not the reason we are gathered together.
What about you? Do you have any special wishes for your adopted kids? I hope your wishes and theirs come true this year.