Christmas Grace by Kristin Orphan

What a year!  When I look back on the past 12 months in my family, I’m amazed at all that has transpired.  We have experienced change, celebrations, set backs, confusion and break-through.

As we head into the next couple of weeks of celebration.  I know that our family time will not resemble the holiday movies I see on TV.  Some will be awkward, others will be disappointing, and at times, I will wonder why I worked so hard to make a special memory when no one else seems to care.  I will be tempted to compare my kids to others.  I will fantasize that other people are having the magical Christmas I can only dream about.  I will grieve that I am a reminder to my daughters that their “real mom” is not present with them.  I will mourn that my sons’ less than perfect Christmas is in part a result of the choice my husband and I made years ago to adopt two children who have experienced trauma and loss.  I will once again wonder why we have not progressed further and why “the most wonderful time of the year” feels anything but.

Then I will remember why my family does not look or act like anyone else’s.  I will think back on each of the days and circumstances that led us to say, “yes” to two little girls who would eventually call us mom and dad.  Who, despite their protests and regular rejection, need us to tenaciously love them, set boundaries and pursue outside help to address all of the challenges that we have and will face in each stage.  Then, I will allow myself to review the victories of these past 13 years, the moments of joy, humor and connection.  I will remember each time one of my sons proudly explained why his skin does not match his sister’s skin and when one used the pronoun “we” to say, “we adopted her.”  I will remember the first Mother’s Day tea, when my oldest daughter shyly brought me a flower in front of her whole class and read her poem to me. Oh, the cost, knowing that she had another mom out there whom she would not see for Mother’s Day.  How lonely she must have felt while the rest of her fellow eight year olds could not begin to imagine the dilemma of two moms, or trying to write a poem about a woman you had just met a few short months before.  I will smile at how my youngest daughter and I share many of the same hobbies and interests and how people say she “gets her singing voice” from me.

In the hardest of times, I find my greatest comfort in remembering why: why we built our family in this way, why our girls needed us to be their parents, why our sons are more compassionate than most young adults their age and most importantly, why we celebrate Christmas.  I know that I am not the first to pose that challenge.  However, I think it bears repeating, because each holiday season, I bring unrealistic expectations to this wildly busy and expensive month.  I think it is my job as a mom to create wonder and to purchase gifts that will leave each of my kids feeling loved and known.  I want my plans to work out flawlessly.  I want to be able to respond positively when people ask, “How was your Christmas?”  And yet, I know our Christmas will be messy, uncomfortable and perhaps even a little embarrassing, not unlike the first Christmas.  And yet, out of the discomfort and difficulties of Mary and Joseph’s journey, redemption and grace came into the world through our Savior Jesus Christ.  May we find redemption and grace this year in the midst of our own messy and miraculous journeys.