Oh, but is it? I hear that song at least once per day from Thanksgiving all the way to Christmas. The song talks about going to Christmas parties, toasting marshmallows, and singing carols out in the snow. For some of us, it can be hard to sing that Christmas song with much conviction. The holidays bring into sharp focus the part of our family that we’re missing. Even if we have relationships with our children and their parents, maybe even celebrating with them, it’s not the same.
My daughter just turned three in November. She asks about the Christmas tree, loves the presents and loves singing Christmas songs. I’ve always loved Christmas. My mom worked hard every year to keep traditions alive and to really bring joy to our Christmases despite the lack of money. Though I hold tight to any commonalities Mack shares with me all year, this time of year causes me to want to hold tighter to those same traits and to hope she loves Christmas as much as I did.
We birth moms feel loss all year round. Even if we have other children (either before and/or after a placed child), no child can replace the hole left by the child we’ve lost. Yes. It is a loss, even if we freely chose that loss. I lost my daughter to adoption despite the fact that I was not coerced at all. No one made the choice but me to relinquish my daughter, and I accept that. But it’s still a loss. I used the example on my own blog of someone who makes the choice to either have a pet put to sleep or is forced by their circumstances to give that pet to other people. That person is still allowed to love and miss that animal despite the fact that they are the ones that made that choice.
More than any other, this season focuses on family and friends and spending time with those we love. It’s focused on children and the joy in their hearts when they get presents and see all the pretty decorations everywhere. Of course as adults we know this season is child-focused. Advertisements and community leaders like pastors encourage us to appreciate the season like little children. So can we help it if our thoughts focus even more on the children we’re not raising? I think not.
I also think that Christmas traditions become even more important after becoming a birth mom. It’s important to not only continue to enjoy Christmas for ourselves but to have something to share with our kids, even if we only share them in our hearts. For instance, I make an ornament every year for Mack to hang on our tree. It hasn’t been very fancy – just a clear ball with fake foliage and a picture of Mack from that year inside. This year, with clearance first from her mom, I’m going to be making one to send to her as well. Of course not everyone has a relationship with their child and his or her adoptive parents like I have. I realize that I and my daughter are fortunate that her parents honor my role in her life. I know I’ve talked about the importance of having Christmas traditions that you keep every year for the child (or children) you’ve placed and I will say it again. As hard as it can be sometimes to include your child in some sort of holiday tradition especially if they’re not participating in it with you, it is so important. Write a letter or note. Make an ornament. Have a special candle you light every day during this time of year just for them.
If we honor the children we placed and really work to keep the Christmas traditions we enjoyed before our children were born and relinquished, I really think it can again be that “most wonderful time of the year.”