Jen Hatmaker knows her stuff when it comes to adoption. And I was so relieved when she posted this blog about big events/holidays and behavior. I have come to dread the holidays or big events because I know we will have lots of anxiety, sadness and confusion. With all those feelings come big behavior issues. And it’s just so exhausting! I do like her ideas of keeping things simple and not drawing out events. I definitely think those help. Our main coping technique is to not expect great behavior or attitudes. We let things slide that we wouldn’t normally. At the same token we still show our consistent rules and consequences. We prepare ourselves for a lot of crying, whining, and just general acting out. I’m sure that Christmas will be a nightmare. Like Jen says, “On Christmas morning, behavior turns insufferable over the smallest thing, over nothing. The “who got more” tally is in full effect (Ben particularly struggles with scarcity). The six thoughtful, loving presents are discarded for the one unreasonable, outrageous thing she didn’t get. We will absolutely hear: “This is the worst day OF MY LIFE!!” (We hear this regularly on Big Days.) She will end up crying in her bedroom, devolving into shame: “I am the worst girl! I am on the naughty list! I ruined Christmas! I’m giving all my presents away!” I feel so frustrated that I sometimes snap, making it all worse. Ultimately, I dread Big Days altogether and while she is thinking she is the worst kid (bless her), I am thinking I am definitely the worst mom.” Solidarity in numbers moms, we can do this together!
This year we are doing something different with our big tree. To honor/include all of our newly adopted kids we are choosing to put ornaments on the tree that we have made together as a family or received together as a family only. It’s already a difficult season for these kids but being included and feeling loved are the most wonderful feelings in the world and might make this year of transition a little bit easier.
The first year that Hubby and I were married and we put our tree, he was super bummed. I receive ornaments each year for my whole life from my Nana. I also accumulated some ornaments along the way from friends, my parents, other relatives, etc. He had maybe one or two to add. He’s not a terribly sensitive man but it made him feel sad. It was like a huge display of YES! these people love my wife. And wow, I have only two ornaments to add. I remembered how he felt this year when considering how our kids will feel this Christmas when we bring out boxes of accumulated Christmas items and they have none.
I haven’t talked a lot about what the kids had in their possession when they came to live with us in July, but suffice it to say that Christmas decorations were not on list. There are no stockings with their names lovingly embroidered. There are no ornaments, picture frames or mangers. They have talked about the items they created for one another at past Christmases but none of those items came along with them.
The holidays are alienating for a lot of people. People who aren’t speaking to loved ones. People who have lost loved ones. People who are long distances from loved ones. And I anticipate that these feelings are going to be pretty major for our three.
Just saw this video of Pastor Ron Lewis and his wife, Lynette. They are local to the Raleigh area where I live and very well liked. They posted this video regarding their Christmas Day adoption and it’s just too sweet. I also linked to their webpage where you can read about their nonprofit Stop Child Trafficking Now.
We are still working on making our own family traditions. It’s only our fifth Christmas together as a couple and third with child so we have time to work on it! One that is yummy and a perfect addition to Christmas dinner is our yule log (buche de Noel) that I get from Whole Foods. I had the pleasure of spending Christmas in Paris about six years ago, and man do those bakeries rock! And every single one makes Buche de Noel, or yule log. It’s a roulade cake, kind of like a jelly roll. I haven’t tried to make it yet but some year I will! What Christmas traditions have you made with your family?
Different traditions for different families. And foster families have to become interpreters for the little ones who just want to fulfill their Christmases past.
It’s about that time of year again where I start to make my lists for Christmas. We have a lot of people to buy for/make gifts for, so I like to start early. I find my child to be the hardest. In-laws are a close second. We have fun making teacher’s gifts and neighbor gifts, but buying for my own daughter is hard. We started a gift-giving tradition for her first Christmas of the following:
1) Something You Want
2) Something You Need
3) Something You Wear
4) Something You Read
I did not make this up, I don’t know the origin but I think it’s so smart! We are blessed that there are many people who give gifts to our child over the course of the holidays. Even small gifts from her great-aunts, three sets of grandparents, three sets of great-grandparents, aunt and uncles, and family friends can really pile up. We are appreciative of all that we receive. For us, Christmas is not all about gifts, but we were drowning in toys last year. I try to save some for her to open at a later time but many gifters prefer that she open her presents in front of them. So it makes Christmas way over the top. She doesn’t expect it and she doesn’t need it. We do lots of fun activities over the holiday season and we donate our time and money throughout the year. So here is a little guide of my own ideas that would fulfill the above gift-giving tradition for toddlers in your life. A toddler Christmas gift-guide, if you will. I would estimate you can find ideas for one-year olds, two-year olds and three-year olds depending on their preferences and maturity! Also, if you are like me and don’t mind searching for things on eBay, craigslist, Black Friday sales or local consignment sales, you can pick up big-ticket items for Christmas and save money for other gifts you have to buy on your list!
Something You Want:
Train table and trains
-see Amazon for brands like BigJigs and Imaginext
Little Tikes Outdoor equipment (many can be found for cheap on craigslist)
-something like their slide, tball set, basketball hoop or swing
-We love our Vtech Innotab
Fisher price zoo
Something You Need:
Educational item like puzzles or string cards
Backpack or lunch box for school
Big kid sheets or towels
Musical instruments, like this one from Melissa and Doug
Something You Wear:
For us, I like to stock up on the next summer’s staples at the end of the season when everything is on clearance. Then it’s fun to give as Christmas presents, when in the dead of the winter you can get excited about an upcoming vacation or weekend away to someplace warm!
Fun underwear for potty training
Babylegs legwarmers–really great brand that grows with your child
Trumpette socks–cutest little socks and tights you could ever imagine, and sometimes TJMaxx and Home Goods carry them!
Something You Read:
This is the most individual, as some kids love board books with flaps, some love texture and some toddlers are okay with picture books. I’ve tried to incorporate some of our favorites in each category.
Llama Llama books
Sandra Boynton books
Eric Carle books