Saturday, December 11, 2010

His Very First Christmas

'Tis the season to decorate for Christmas at our house. Like many others, we drag out dust covered boxes of ornaments to adorn our Christmas tree. Some of these are special treasures that have been cherished for years. Others bring a laugh or make us wonder what we were thinking (let's be honest, the High School Musical locker ornament that sings was a huge mistake!).

There is always one special ornament that washes emotion over me like a tsunami. Most often leaving me breathless for a moment, gasping for air and holding back tears. I am often paralyzed with feelings that it ressurects.

That ornament is a memento of Connor's First Christmas. And, every single time I look at it, I cry.

I'm swept back to the day I realized what my child's first Christmas would really mean. I'd taken a half day off work to start Christmas shopping and catch up on life. But, first I stopped by our house and checked e-mail (keep in mind, I didn't have 24/7 access to e-mail on my cell phone at the time!). There, in the mess of mundane topics was a message from our adoption agency. New photos!

I opened the file and waited patiently while it downloaded (probably about 3 minutes, I love DSL today!). And, there he was!

I've never felt more alone in my life. My baby was going to spend his very first Christmas in Guatemala without me.

This is not how it should go. Someone else had dressed my sweet baby in a goofy Santa hat and posed him for Christmas card photos. But it wasn't me. Someone else had quieted his tears (I could see that he'd been crying in some of the other photos they sent in the group) and kissed away whatever fear he had. But it wasn't me. Someone else was going to hold my baby in the quiet of the night on Christmas Eve and sing Christmas carols softly in his ear. But it wasn't me. I wondered if he'd receive a soft little lamb or doggie as a gift on Christmas morning, snuggled in the arms of one of his caregivers. I hoped that he would, it was his first Christmas and someone should be showering him with gifts and love. But it wasn't me.

Seemingly, I had everything. I was finally a mom. I was married to the love of my life. It was my favorite time of the year, with the hubub of activity that I love. And, yet, I sat at that computer and sobbed for hours. I cradled the 15-inch Gateway monitor like it was my baby. I wiped my tears on that screen, hoping to feel the softness of his face or the squeeze of his fingers wrapping around mine. My heart was ripped completely open, savagely and without warning...all because of that photo and all that it represented.

Later, I shared the photo with everyone. I asked them to pray for him on his very first Christmas, that it be peaceful. I spent some time on my knees too, begging the God that I knew to protect him and somehow make sure that he felt our love on that magical night and every day until we finally met. After all, Christmas is all about miracles, right?

I printed that photo and put it in Christmas ornaments as gifts for his waiting grandparents. Eventually I made my way to the local Hallmark store and purchased the Spanish version of the 2003 Baby's First Christmas ornament.

And, now, every year when we decorate our Christmas tree, as I place that ornament on the branches I whisper another prayer. It is a prayer of thanks for everyone who made sure that my baby was swaddled and loved on his very first Christmas. Those people are responsible for the most amazing gift I could ever dream of, countless future Christmases with goofy Santa hats and softly sung carols in the night. And, the child who makes it all meaningful.

Feliz Navidad from us to you...may the anticipation of your blessings make them even richer.

PS -- the following year our Christmas card portrayed the picture of happiness that we dreamt of through all those tears. Yes, miracles do happen.