First REAL Christmas

Little Sister at Grandma and Grandpa’s house.  They gave her a chef set.  After putting the outfit on, she promptly went up to Grandpa and said, “I want to took (cook) in the kitchen with you!”

Little Brother on Christmas Eve (when we open up our family presents).  He thought was going to receive TWO gifts.  Wow, he was surprised!

Jeff at Grandma and Grandpa’s house playing with the toys!  Too funny!

Christmas Eve waiting for the girls to wake up!

Ok, folks.  Prepare yourself for a long blog entry.  🙂

I can’t describe how wonderful this Christmas was.  Last year was our first Christmas with children.  TD had just moved in and Big Boy (now with his birth family) had lived with us for two months.

Something in my heart told me Big Boy would not stay with us permanently.  At the time, his birth parents weren’t doing all they should be doing, but I just knew it wasn’t permanent.  That didn’t change our love for Big Boy, but it effected my view of Christmas last year.  It kind of made me sad inside, to be honest.  I just knew we likely would not share another Christmas with him.  And, yes, I was right.

This year was different for us because we knew that our kids would be with us permanently.  It almost let me relax more internally and just enjoy and live in the moment….and not have to think about future.

We did the best we could to emphasize what Christmas is all about.  Throughout the weeks prior to Christmas, we read our Children’s Bible frequently zoning in on the birth of Jesus.  Trying to explain to a 2 and 4 year old how Jesus was a baby, but He is also God.  Not easy to simplify (at least for me it wasn’t)!

But there was another element that I didn’t really discover until the week before Christmas.  Sometimes with foster kids, the details of their past are sketchy.  You hear the most important hot topics, but some of the in-betweens are unknown.  After talking to several staff members that have been with the little ones since the beginning of their journey in foster care, we discovered this was their first REAL Christmas together.

You may want to understand what I mean by that…

If they spent a Christmas together in the same house, it would have been only one Christmas (two years ago).  We don’t know for sure what the birth family situation was at that time.  Probably not good.

Last Christmas they weren’t living together and had Christmas in two separate homes.

Last Christmas, Little Brother was in a TERRIBLE foster home.  I highly doubt he received any gifts or was made to feel special at all.  He was treated terribly at that home.

Those are factual statements.  Now, here is where the rubber meets the road.  At the Childhelp Christmas party, Little Brother received a stocking.  You should have seen his eyes light up when he received a TOOTHBRUSH.  STICKERS.  TATOOS.  CRAYONS.  COLORING BOOK.  We have given him these things at home, but he received a present with these items that he was able to unwrap and open.  And he was GUSHING at how much he loved the gifts.  He felt so special to get these very simple things in his stocking.

Do you get the picture?  He has not had the opportunity, prior to coming here, to be held, loved and cherished.  He has not received very much.  Instead, so much has been taken away from him.  His security, foundation and nearly his future were taken.

Little Sister was young enough not to have such a negative outcome and was in more positive foster homes than Little Brother.  She enjoyed the stocking too, but Little Brother’s expressions of joy were hard to miss.

Having seen his reaction to the stocking, I knew Christmas was going to be overwhelming.

When I was wrapping the presents, I showed Jeff the items we had purchased and asked, “Do you think it’s too much?  Should we go give others from what we have?”  As much as Jeff loves to give, he brought me back…  “This is their first Christmas.  Let’s make it special for them.”  I feel he was so right.  Maybe if our kids were spoiled and had everything we would have never gone this big…  But, for our kids (including TD), I don’t know that a family has given to them out of true love.  This is NOT to highlight us.  This is simply to state the facts.

When Little Brother woke up (at the crack of dawn, as usual – smile), he came downstairs and saw all the gifts.  Still, he had no idea what was about to happen.  He thought maybe two of the gifts were for him.  He didn’t even seem very excited.  He had no clue what was about to happen, even while seeing the presents in front of him.

When the girls woke up, we started the morning talking about Jesus and praying together.  It was short and simple this year because our little ones are so young and their attention span is “here and gone”.  🙂

Then, the kids opened their presents one at a time.  I feel choked up just writing about it.  Each of the kids, especially TD and Little Brother, were overwhelmed.  I could tell TD felt loved…I don’t know how to explain it.  I know gifts don’t equal love.  But us giving them to her somehow demonstrated our love to her.  One gift in particular completely surprised TD and it was so cute to see her reaction:  “Oh my goodness.  OH my goodness.  Thank you so much.”  Then, she said, “OK, I have to give you a hug for this.”  Hugs from her to us are UNHEARD of.

Little Brother was completely awestruck each time he opened a gift.  Surprisingly, he was not at all hyper or running around crazy.  He opened up each gift and came to us hugging us and saying thank you, over and over again.  He was so happy and grateful.  He asked me, “Is it always like this, Mommy?”  I almost cried when he asked that because I knew he had never experienced this before.

Little Sister enjoyed it all just as much, but with younger point of view.  She enjoyed opening the presents and was so excited to receive a “big girl bed” – a princess bed with a canopy (toddler size).  So much fun!

I know it is not all about the gifts.  But, this year I so enjoyed our Christmas together.  I knew our kids our with us to stay.  We were able to share our first Christmas together.  And we were able to bless the socks off our kids.

I can’t express just how warm my memory of Christmas 2010 was.

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4 Responses to First REAL Christmas

  1. angela sword says:

    sounds wonderful! every bit of it….

  2. Cortney says:

    What a beautiful story Dana. I was so touched by the expressions that your children had over the gifts. I know that gifts don’t equal love, but for your children this expressed a symbol of love, family and traditions-all of which they’re experiencing for the first time. Thanks for sharing this one!

  3. Monica says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this wonderful story Dana, it really filled me with joy just reading about the kids’ reactions! Praise God for His wonderful blessings in your lives 🙂

  4. Laurie says:

    Dana, This is such a beautiful picture of God’s love for us!! Oh how God loves to spoil us!! The joy you feel as a parent when you see your children’s faces light up as they receive gifts that they have asked for and waited patiently for is the such a wonderful feeling.
    Thank you for sharing this beautiful picture with us!
    Love you guys!

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