The HoliDAZE. Whichever you prefer.
Personally, I adore this time of year. Halloween to New Year is my favorite part of the rotation of our planet around the sun. Though my wife struggles more with the commercialization of Black Friday and Christmas, somehow I mostly seem to make it through every year untarnished by jadedness. I suspect stubbornness may be involved.
Maybe part of it is that we don't participate in Black Friday. And never intend to. I think Black Friday brings out the worst in people who spent the day before being thankful for all the things they have. It's a horrifying irony.
Maybe part of it is that I so love giving handcrafted gifts, made specifically for a person. I love seeing the look on their faces when they realize how much love and work went into their present, and within that, how much I obviously love them. Christmas is an opportunity, I think. The chance to show someone in a more outward way what I think about them; how much they mean to me. (Now that I write that out, is there a reason I don't give these gifts the rest of the year? Hmm.) While you can purchase a handmade gift from the street fair or a local artist or Etsy, it's not the same as using your own hands and heart and mind to create the perfect gift.
The unfortunate side to the handcrafted gifts is that they do take a lot of time and effort. I wish I had the creativity and drive to make amazing gifts for everyone I adore each and every Christmas, but sadly I don't possess those skills in droves. I snatch greedily at the fleeting hope of "sticktoitiveness" every time I'm blessed with inspiration, but those times are far outnumbered by the times I fall asleep on the couch at the end of a long day.
This year is both somewhat reminiscent of last year in that we are busy with E, like we were busy with our foster son and daughter ("Andrew" and "Eva") last year. But it's vastly different, too.
I didn't think that eleven months after Andrew and Eva went home to their mother, I would still feel the knot of twisted sickness clench my gut when I ponder how they are. Last Thanksgiving, Andrew was fifteen months old, walking and quickly becoming a foodie. Shouting with joy about "A BALL!" Any round object was a ball, hah. Eva had just turned four years old in October, and we had finally gotten her medical providers to realize that our claims of there actually being something wrong with her were correct. T had been taking her to appointment after appointment with neurological specialists to assess the problems with her learning difficulties and speech impediment as well as developmental delays. The day before Thanksgiving, Eva was scheduled to have a sleep-deprivation MRI to evaluate her for seizures. This meant that she could only sleep four hours before her appointment. Eva could easily sleep for fourteen hours a night and wish for more, so the idea of only allowing her four was ... intimidating, to say the least.
I cannot stress enough how very impressed and awed I was by T. T had to take the reins on keeping poor Eva up all night, especially without the aid of caffeine (and consequently, chocolate). Not an easy task. They went out to see a movie in the theater, went out with some friends for a (very late) dessert and drew icy daggers from the other patrons who were horrified at the party of adults keeping a four year old out at one in the morning. They came home and made cupcakes and while they baked, sat and watched Eva's favorite movie - Cars. T took an incredibly hilarious, adorable, sad video of Eva falling asleep while eating her cupcake. Soon after that, she let Eva pass out in her bed, only to be woken by me four hours later.
After her appointment that morning, she came home for a nap, only to be woken again a couple hours later by T, who had the misfortune of trying to take her for a dentist's appointment. Boy oh boy was that a disaster. She refused to open her mouth and the doctor had to pry her jaws apart by pulling on her lip and eliciting an indignant scream from sleep-deprived Eva.
A day like that would make anyone angry, and Eva took it out on us. Can't say I blame her, though it wasn't enjoyable. In some kind of perverse way, I remember the experience almost fondly. She felt secure enough about her relationship with us to be angry and throw tantrums and embarrass us in front of everyone at Thanksgiving dinner. We lived through it; we loved her enough to do the right thing for her even if she couldn't understand it and punished us for our attempts at help.
Little Andrew had a fantastic Thanksgiving, full of more food than he's ever stuffed himself with before and then being held and played with by one of our best friends. He rewarded her efforts by pulling her shirt away from her body and promptly vomiting all his dinner down her front.
We got one Thanksgiving with those kids: no, our kids. Just the one. It was funny and full of happiness - but it was also frustrating and infuriating. It was sweet. It was memorable. It left a bitter taste burning in my throat.
And this year, this special, amazing year, we get to share Thanksgiving with our daughter. A baby grown by us and born by us and much loved by us. By a couple whose lives were colored and cracked and healed by two kids before her.
So while come December, we'll have had two Thanksgivings in a row with children, they're lightyears apart.
This November, I'm thankful for my loving wife.
I'm thankful for my generous, warm, boisterous, welcoming, growing, caring, selfless family - the one I'm bound to by love.
I'm thankful for my sweet and healthy baby daughter.
I'm thankful for all our friends - new and old, who bring joy and laughter to my life.
I'm thankful to have enough money to live in a safe home and take care of ourselves, even if there isn't much extra.
I'm thankful for my good health and able mind and body.
I'm thankful for the gifts of the heart that were given to us by the children in our lives before E.
And the biggest thing I am thankful for and glad of and thrilled by is that I won't spend this Thanksgiving worrying about when I have to give my child back to her "real" family and wondering if she'll be okay.
But this year, I'll miss coy Eva asking for yet another roll. I'll miss gleeful Andrew making a mess of his high chair tray. I'll miss their sticky hands and sparkling blue eyes and fine blond hair. And I'll hope upon hope that this Thanksgiving, they don't go without food, or a family who loves them.
|Eva and Andrew, choosing Halloween pumpkins.|
Friends, I hope that this Thanksgiving brings you love and family and peace and joy, whoever and wherever you are.