Ah, the Christmas season is upon us.
I love Christmas. I really do. I have such great memories of Christmas as a child. I love the music, the decorations and the food. (Especially the food) I love a chance to celebrate the birth of my Lord. And as a family, we have lots of traditions and things that we do to celebrate.
Each family member gets a new ornament to put on the tree signifying something about the past year. Mine this year is a Starbuck coffee cup, if that tells you anything about how I survive my days.
We visit the same "Santa" every year for pictures. The kids are old enough now that they remember him, although Jason has figured out that he just "works" for Santa now. He said Santa can't possibly be at a mall this close to Christmas when he has a sleigh to pack. (I love my son's thinking.)
The kids all get a set of Christmas lights in their room.
We visit the lights at the Zoo.
I always do a baking day with the kids. This is messy, but fun. And they love handing out "their" cookies.
This year, Jason and Hannah were able to sing in the Christmas program and we always look forward to our Christmas Eve candlelight service.
But there is a dark, underbelly to Christmas here as well.
Not everyone has happy memories of the holidays and I was his mom before I really understood what this could mean. And boy, was that first Christmas a hard one. I didn't really understand all that he was dealing with that first year. As excited as we were about our first Christmas as parents, Jason was grieving just as hard for the life he was no longer a part of. And for the chaotic parts of that life that had followed him to our home.
By the time we reached Christmas, Jason's brother, DJ, was imploding and spend the days before Christmas in a psychiatric facility. And just 5 weeks after Christmas, the county removed DJ for Jason's safety. Needless to say, this is not always a good time of year in our house.
While Hannah and Micah have only ever known the holiday with us, Jason has memories of Christmas with his foster family. He also remembers his first Christmas with us. A holiday that filled his mom and dad with joy, but him with sorrow. During this season he is always on edge. Jumpy. A bit quicker to lash out. A bit easier to cry.
Behaviors that have been gone for months, sometimes years resurface again. We ended up looking like crazy parents because we surpervise our oldest more than our youngest. He needs this though. I don't think Jason would ever admit to his friends that he liked sitting at the table with us at the Christmas party, but he was calmed and better behaved than he had been in days.
It helps knowing we're not alone in this either. I have a friend who blogged on this very topic earlier this week. This Christmas insanity seems to be rather common among parents of hurt children. We have friends that forgo the tree altogether and others that simply decorate for a couple of days then go back to normal. Some, like us, try for as much of a normal holiday as possible. We all seem to be dealing with varying levels of insanity, but at least we are not alone.
Hang in there everyone. This too shall pass and then we only have 365 days until we get to do it again.