All my children were adopted. They are a blessing and a joy, and it is an honor to be their mother. When I look at them, my heart feels like it might burst with fullness. As I watch them grow, I see the beauty in their varying skin tone, eye color, and personality. I delight in their uniqueness, and I stand in wonder that I am allowed to raise them and be their mother forever.
Sometimes in my wonder, I can forget that all eight of my children came to my family through loss. In order for my husband and I to feel the abundant joy we feel each day, they had to lose their first family. What a sobering reality—especially at Christmastime when we celebrate the birth of a Son. Even more so when we remember that his mother too felt abundant joy and loss as she raised a child that would one day give his life to save the world. Christmas is a time of wonder, but for some of our children, it is also an overwhelming time. The lights, music, snow, guests, presents, parties, dress-up clothes, and more can be overwhelming for me, and I’m a grown adult! Children can become overstimulated during the holiday season. Children and adults who have experienced loss can feel it even more deeply as commercials, songs, and sermons point to the value of family and togetherness. The expectation of happiness and joy can often feel like a burden instead of a promise.
In our own home as the season approaches, we choose to be mindful that we do not allow the expectations of the holiday season to place unnecessary pressure on our family. This season can quickly feel out of control, but there are some things we can do to keep our Christmas small as we focus on what really matters.
Choose a few things you want to do during this season and allow yourself to discard the rest. For instance, we choose to celebrate Advent each week as a family, but we are going to let go of moving the “magical elf” to a new location each day.
Say no thanks
It’s ok to say no thank you to the extra candy or invitations.
Be aware of body language
What is your kid’s behavior telling you about how they are feeling? If your child is overstimulated, look around and see what might be causing the feeling of dis-regulation. Is it the lights? The scented candles you have in each room? Too much sugar? Readjust what you are doing so that your child can re-regulate. Children will have happier memories of their childhood Christmas if they feel peaceful.
Keep your eyes on Jesus
The one thing I want my children to remember about this season is the wonder over the child born to save the world. The things we do to celebrate as a family will be secondary to the thrill of hope felt by all who met the wondrous child, Jesus.
The first Christmas was filled with the emotions of uncertainty, love, wonder, joy, and most of all peace. I encourage you, dear mothers, to pause during this holiday season and ponder these things in your heart just as Mary did on that small and simple first Christmas.
“When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, ‘Let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.’ They hurried to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger. After seeing him, the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child. All who heard the shepherds’ story were astonished, but Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often” (Luke 2:15-19).