Sunday, December 29, 2013

Together--Our First Christmas

Thank you to everyone for your wonderful Christmas cards and holiday wishes!  We have truly drawn from your strength and experiences, along our journey.  You have motivated us, encouraged us and inspired us, and for that, we will be eternally grateful.  This was a our first Christmas as parents of ten!  We made memories and even learned a few lessons on the way.

Lesson 1=  Christmas is not just a day on the calendar, but a feeling of togetherness.  I had thoughts of having all of the children together, young and old, our first Christmas, to enjoy the Christmas story on Christmas eve, decorate cookies and deliver to neighbors, to discover their stockings together on Christmas morning and enjoy hot cinnamon rolls (which I don't even know how to make!) while opening gifts together.  However, the reality was, three of our children spent Christmas Eve and Christmas morning with their mom.  3 more of our children spent the early afternoon on Christmas day with their dad.  Then, by 6pm, Christmas night, we were all under the same roof, minus one.

Lesson 2=  When blending families and dealing with any type of family change, Christmas is a great opportunity to create bonds with one another.  Early in the month of December, the kids had drawn names amongst themselves.  They would purchase a nice gift for one sibling.  On Christmas night, with everyone finally together, each child held the gift they purchased.  One by one, they were to tell the person they had purchased the gift for, three things they loved and admired about that person.  A great thing began to happen.  By the third  person, everyone would chime in and say what they loved about them as well.  It took about 30 minutes to get through everyone.  And, by the end of the night, there was an amazing spirit of love and togetherness that was felt by all.  This type of activity is crucial when blending families, as the relationships are new.  During times of family change, like divorce or death, family dynamics are different, and often times, spirits are down.  So, a bonding activity is a great way to invite the spirit, and create new relationships with the new family dynamics.

Lesson 3=  Christmas is a time of great tradition.  While part of me wanted to just create all new traditions and forget the old, I spent the month of December asking the kids what their favorite Christmas was a why, what types of traditions they had and what they liked about them.  Whether death or divorce, the holidays can be a time of great sorrow, if we allow it, as our focus is all on Christmas Pasts and how things will never be the same.  However, by talking about those Christmases of yesteryear, all of the kids realized that I wanted to know, was interested in their traditions, and allowed them a positive venue for discussing such experiences when they may have felt like they could not talk to me about them.  I was then able to incorporate some and create some others, and celebrate the first Hirchak-Weidmer Christmas, together!

Lesson 4=  Christmas is a time of great anticipation for kids.  So, it was not surprising that out of our 10, their were one or two who were tired, grumpy and even vocalized their disappointment in the gifts they received.  Rather than take offense and feel like a failure, I just focused on the odds of 9 out of 10 and felt like we had done a pretty good job.  Their grumpiness also created a great teaching moment and opportunity to remind them that Christmas is not just about the presents, by His presence.

Lesson 5=  When things don't turn out just like you planned, make a new plan with what you have rather than focus on what you have-not!  It would have been easy to throw my hands up in the air and give up, when I realized that kids would be heading in many different directions on Christmas Eve and Christmas morning, when I pictured us all together.  However, I got out an index card, and wrote down who was going where and when.  This allowed me to pinpoint the time that everyone could get together, and we made our plan, sent out the invites, shopped for special food and created a great family event, during the time that we could all get together.

I realized that each Christmas and holiday will be a little different than the one before, and a lot different than the many I remember.  However, each holiday has the potential to create loving bonds and be a vehicle for transforming us as families change, together!!

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