Friday, December 23, 2011


Last night we watched Ricky and Leon wrestle. They are so gifted. Ricardo pinned his guy in the second period, but Leon lost. He said the guy was just a lot stronger than he was.

Afterwards four of us got something to eat (Dominyk, Wilson, Bart and I) and enjoyed Wilson's wit. At one point Dominyk was rubbing his fairly large belly and complaining of stomach pain and Wilson said, "Did your water break?"

When we got home we somehow had some uninterrupted time with just Leon and Wilson in our bedroom before bed. Leon wanted a back massage as he often has back pain after a match. We had a really nice time just chatting and laughing, but one important observation was made.

I grew up loving surprises. My mom always wanted to make sure that no matter what we asked for for Christmas there was something under the tree that we didn't know about because she wanted us to be surprised. We loved that and I've tried to carry on that tradition.

However my kids really don't want surprises. They almost place an order for their gifts and have for several years. The older they get the more specific they get. Tony was even telling me how he wanted his presents wrapped the other day. This takes away a lot of fun for me.

As we were talking last night Leon, the one who holds it together better than any of our kids, was asking me very specific questions about Christmas. I asked him, "Don't you want ANYTHING to be a surprise on Christmas?" And he said, "Mom, I'm almost 17?" I was having trouble putting it all together when once again my wise husband helped me out.

He said, "Maybe kids who grew up neglected or in chaos don't like suprises." And Leon said, "Yeh, maybe the surprise was getting smacked." I'm not sure he was referring to himself, but the whole concept is interesting.

Maybe my kids fear disappointment so much that they have to order exactly what they want for Christmas because they have had so many years in their past where Christmas wasn't the way TV said it was supposed to be. Maybe if they find a picture on line and text it to me (this has happened this year) then there is no way there will be disappointment.

So maybe my family of origin tradition is going to have to go. Maybe I should take a different approach and just make sure that we have a "no surprises" Christmas and that will make everyone a bit more relaxed.

I know that my kids don't know why they do some of the things they do. It's subconscious and most of the time they are not invested in ruining holidays or making others miserable. But anxiety peaks around holidays.

But maybe it is enough that even if I am imperfect and unable to give them something that looks just like the picture, or if we're not wealthy enough to give them everything their friends parents give them, that we can at least know that they have a family. I'm not sure that they all appreciate it, and at least one has made it very clear that he wishes he would have been adopted by someone else and has told us that now for 14 years since he came at 8. But at least we know that this Christmas they have us. They belong somewhere. This incredibly insightful post shows what could have happened to any of our kids without us and while I still don't think we have done enough and wish we had the capacity to help even more people, even the writer of this blog, I have to realize our limitations and that our family at this time would not be a soothing or therapuetic place for a new family member to heal.

So there are my thoughts on Christmas Eve Eve. I'm going to focus on the things this Christmas that we have done that are traditions every year and make sure those happen. And not worry so much that everyone has a surprise. Because that may have been a value that only I have had over the past 15 years of my Christmases as a mom.


Lee said...

Maybe you could turn the tradition on its head a bit and tell them that YOU want a surprise because it was what you liked best growing up but that you are not going to surprise them since they don't like it. I have an autistic eldest so we don't do lots of surprising. A little bit extra yes, but mostly it is what they ask for (except the 7 y/o who wants a robot that makes pies!

Claudia said...

Oh my, that's funny. A robot that makes pies????

MARY B. said...

Ok - so you keep making me thinking differently about our family situation - THANK You Very Much! But once my eyes have been opened I can no longer pretend that I do not know...I've been a bit grumpy thinking about the special gifts I selected for each child - only to have them be disrespectful and remind me daily that they want their "real" mom. Until last night...when I wrapped every gift until the wee hours of this morning and I thought about the love I put into each and every gift. Even if they don't show me anything back I am equipped to give and give and give of myself with joy. I need to be very mindful of "unconditional love" and just get over myself - we'd all be so much happier! I'm keeping the surprises to a minimum this year...except for one thing....since we will be attending church service tomorrow morning and we have a house full of children who lack patience we are surprising them by opening present this afternnon...we celebrate the Birth of Christ - not the arrival of Santa anyway :).
Merry Christmas

tashapork said...

You make a lot of sense. B was the same way and I didn't really put 2 and two together. For instance when she was 4, we put a little jar of marachino cherries in her stocking because she loved them and she grew to expect it each year. Part of it may be because of some of the neurological challenges they face, just as a lot of them have a hard time trying new restaurants or activities. I think its the tradition part of holidays that they find the most reassurring. Lord behold if we didn't have ham on xmas eve. Good luck and enjoy the together times.