Archives for posts with tag: Christmas

Well, after two and a half weeks, I’m back to blogging!  We returned from our week in paradise, enjoyed Christmas at home, went to bed early on New Year’s Eve, and started back to our usual routine of home school and life today.  Great to have a break from writing to process it all.

Vacation…what can I say…it was over the top fantastic!  It was worth the 15 year wait to have a real beach holiday with my main man, and all the kids did so great without us!

We stayed out late, we slept in, we did what we wanted, we didn’t have to do anything, we had our own schedule, we experienced new adventures, we were lazy, we soaked in the hot tub, we read on chaise lounges poolside, we dined on our balcony, we tanned on the beach, every restaurant we ate at was better than the one before, and we caught fish!

Wow, I even got to read four whole books! (I’ll review them in the next posts this week.)  My honey even upgraded us to a convertible!  He even found a car show (while I shopped!)  We acted like twenty-somethings, and lived like kings.  I forgot how much fun it can be to be the girlfriend instead of the mom!

And did I mention room service, and maid service, and drinks poolside service?

The kids had lots of fun with big sister home from college. She and big brother took wonderful care of their younger siblings.   They decorated for Christmas, shopped for and wrapped gifts, baked all kinds of fabulous treats, played games, watched movies, stayed up late, and didn’t miss us, much!  No one acted out, or at least we weren’t told about it, the house was still standing, the livestock were all well fed and watered, the dishes got washed, the meals got cooked, and most of the laundry was caught up. 

It may never happen again so I am relishing in the fact we had such a perfect week in paradise.  We are happily married, refreshed, can wink and laugh at our memories (we bought a souvenir sign ‘It’s 5 o’clock somewhere’,) and appreciate our kids all the more.

Life is good.  God is great.  And we are crazy!

 

Our home school support group has a couple of Christmas traditions that we enjoy.  Today at our annual Christmas Brunch we collected shoebox gifts for foster children in our county.  Our 20 families filled 40+ shoeboxes with age appropriate gifts, festively wrapped and labeled them. 

Next week we will go caroling at our county’s Human Services building to bless the social services workers there, and deliver our shoebox gifts.  Home schoolers singing Christmas carols at a government building?  Well, why not!  Last year we did it, and they invited us back!  One gentleman told me he had worked there twenty years and no one had ever come caroling.  He loved our ‘heritage’ songs.  I hate political correctness, but if that’s what it takes to get an open door to share the love of Christ, then so be it!

Foster families and kids often have a tough time at Christmas.  Kids are displaced from their birth family – for good or bad – and extra mouths to feed, and extra gifts to purchase can stretch the budget of already stretched families.  A simple shoebox full of fun gifts can make a child feel loved and special.  I took  my kids to Dollar Tree and we each filled one.  The older kids helped the little kids fill theirs. It was easy, fun, and we know these modest treasures we will bring smiles to kids on Christmas.  I asked my older adopted daughter if she remembered receiving Christmas gifts while in foster care.  She said she got a few gifts, but not as much as now.  She thought foster kids would really like it that people thought about them and wanted to bless them.

The Christmas season is a great time for families or groups of families to reach out to orphans.  Whether by giving wrapped gifts, food, or time, love can overflow as we all do a little, so a lot will get done.

What can your family, church, or social group do to come alongside orphans this Christmas?  There are many ideas, so pick one and get started blessing others.  Be sure to share the greatest gift of all – God’s Son Jesus Christ, born to earth, so we could all be adopted into God’s Kingdom.

“Grief is a multi-faceted response to loss, particularly to the loss of someone or something to which a bond was formed. Although conventionally focused on the emotional response to loss, it also has physical, cognitive, behavioral, social, and philosophical dimensions. While the terms are often used interchangeably, bereavement refers to the state of loss, and grief is the reaction to loss.”                                 (According to Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

Three of my adopted kids have major loss issues related to their relationship with their birth parents.  They have worked their way through most of the stages of grief:  numbness, pain, bargaining, rage, depression, anxiety, acceptance. We have actively helped them work through these stages, as much as they are able as they pass through different developmental phases.  Sometimes they revisit a stage when they have gained a new coping skill. 

I can relate to their grief and want to help them through it.  Our youngest biological child, Abby Joanne, died 16 years ago on Christmas Day from a sudden illness.  Though I, too, have worked through my grief, it overshadows much of the happy celebrations of Thanksgiving and Christmas.

I wonder if a parent’s grief over the loss of their child is greater, less than, or equal to that of a child losing their parent?  Well, we’ll never know.  A more answerable question is:  How do we deal with all of this grief that tends to surface during the great celebration times of Thanksgiving and Christmas? 

I don’t have all the answers, but here are some things we have learned to do over the years that help make the holidays special and celebratory, even amidst our grief:

  1. Give thanks to our good and gracious Lord each and every day.
  2. Remember that Christ is the Reason for the Season of Christmas, and the Christ worshipping Pilgrims were the reason for Thanksgiving.
  3. Listen to Christmas or worship music all day long, especially in the afternoon as you tire and tend to be melancholy.
  4. Plan time each day to be alone, by yourself, to just breathe and be.
  5. Try to laugh in the face of adversity.  On a really bad day, put on the old black and white Little Rascals or Ma and Pa Kettle dvd and get a good laugh with your kids.
  6. Think of others who are suffering more than you with charitable giving, inviting them over, or sending personal cards.
  7. As a family, choose and work together on a project for a benevolence ministry;  we make and deliver Christmas shoebox gifts for foster kids.
  8. Select a charity to assist; use the money you would have spent on a gift for your lost loved one; we donate to an orphanage in my daughter’s name.
  9. Slow down your regular schedule to accommodate a few choice activities like caroling, special programs, and meal celebrations with comfort food favorites to create life-long, positive memories.
  10. Start or increase the frequency of regular family devotions, studying God’s Holy word, and sing praises to Him.
  11. Shop for, wrap, and give modest but thoughtful gifts that make the members of your family feel special and loved; a hand-made ornament with the year date grows special over time.
  12. Get more sleep by going to bed earlier, or sleeping-in as many days in the week as possible.
  13. Eat nutritious food  in moderation at regular meals, so you won’t suffer greatly if you overindulge at special meals.
  14. Give lots of hugs and compliments to your family members, and gently remind them you need some, too.
  15. Do the extra work together as a family (cooking, cleaning, decorating) so as not to overburden yourself.
  16. Focus on family time and couple time, limiting social and church obligations.
  17. Take time to talk individually with each of your kids every day, letting them lead the conversation after you get it started
  18. When time permits, gently ask your adopted child to share their thoughts about the holidays they remember with their birth parents; just listen and affirm their feelings without putting your ‘spin’ on it.
  19. Learn that is okay to say ‘no’ to extended family gatherings that involve revisiting your pain, or being with relatives who just don’t ‘get it’ about your adopted kids.

Our kids need us to be mothers and fathers who are ‘there’ for them every day, through good times and bad.  Thankfully, our Heavenly Father is ‘there’ for us every day, especially in good times and bad.  God knows our loss and grieves with us.  His one and only Son died so we could have life.  He wants us to celebrate that life despite our grief. 

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